The Journey to finding yourself

The Journey to finding yourself

We all know life is full of surprises. Life knocks us down and we get up again; yet other times we say it’s too hard and we give in, we let life fall down on us. We don’t act on our dreams and who we want to be! There is some part of us that naturally goes along with who we think we are supposed to be. How we were raised. We all grow up expected to be this certain somebody.

We all have our own set of hard times.  BUT– who are we really? Aside from our family, partner, job- anything! Deep down are you living the life you want to live FOR YOU and only you? Not because you are expected to act a certain way or say something nice or pretend to fit in to feel like you belong. This is what our society teaches us, this is how we are raised and we need to break the cycle. Eventually for a lot of us, at some point in our lives, it looks and or feels like this:

disaster

I know at this point in my life, the above picture is how I personally feel about my life right now. Being on national television doesn’t exactly help that situation, especially when it’s lies and nothing but drama. The only reason I even bring that point up is because it’s a different perspective when you live it on the other side. What you see on the outside (the show) is completely different that what it looks like and feels in real life. Something we thought would help our family, ended up causing a bigger mess and storm in the family unit like the one above.

Homelessness, mental health and not enough resources, children taken, abandoned and or beaten. Homes torn apart, natural disasters, death, abuse, divorce- the list could go on and on.

On the flip side, there is Joy to be found. Newborn babies, marriage or even just falling in love; jumping out of a plane, going to a new place, service, helping those in need. This list could go on and on as well too. So where do we find ourselves? How do we identify who we are, what we like? How do we pull away from society’s ideals and be who we truly are?

which-direction

At some point in our lives, we all meet that fork in the road. Sometimes we are 16, sometimes 32 and other times not until we are in our fifty’s or sixty’s.

I’ve been building up to this point over the last few years with a lot of steps forward and a lot of steps back and back again. Now I sit here, 27 years old and looking at my life and where I’m at. It’s not where I want to be. It never has been and up until recently I’ve never even thought about doing something different. UNTIL NOW.

We all have struggles in our lives, things that block us from doing what we want, being what we want; or even things that just take us down a deep dark hole that we don’t even begin to know how to come out of.

2016 has definitely been one of those years that I felt myself falling deeper and deeper into that black abyss. I’ve fought and i’ve worked hard; i’ve also given up and let my demons win. I wanted to write this blog not only to close out another year, but to start a chain of self discovery. Not just for me, but for anyone who is ready to take that risk! Yes, it’s a risk but it can be an exciting one.

I recently began reading a book titled “You are the one.” It is written by Kute Blackson and I highly recommend it. It’s beginning to help me open my eyes into my own life- past, present and future. There is so much in here that has helped me already. One in particular I’d like to share with you. It’s called:

The free fall

We all face moments in life where we feel that impulse inside to do something different.  But we often stay where we are, where it is comfortable, rather than daring to dream big.  It’s not worth it.  Safety is not a recipe for success.  But you’ve got to be prepared for the free fall.  There’s a moment after you do something daring when you go, ‘Oh, Shit?  What have I done?’  The moment after you jump out of a plane or off a cliff.  The moment you first say ‘I love you.’  The moment you tell someone the truth you’ve been holding back.  The moment you leave the job you hate to start your own business.  It’s a free fall.  You don’t know whether to look up for something to grab on to or look down for something to cushion your fall.”  (Book: “You are the one” written by: Kute Blackson)

So are you willing to free fall? Are you willing to take that risk? You get to make the decision but you also get to have support around you. You are not alone.

My identity has always been based upon what has happened to me, and for a long time I was okay with that. Well I don’t know if it was that I was necessarily “okay” with it. But I was unaware and unwilling to take a hard look at myself. Yes, I had every right to be angry and hurt and feel completely broken, but those are the lies I told myself and I used it as an excuse for years. My past was horrible, but it’s in the past and it sure as hell does not define me as a person. What a prison to live in for so long, believing that was my identity!

To hell with new year resolutions! That’s my own opinion. I bought into them for so long and for some they work great, but what’s the point? And what happens when we don’t reach it? We blame ourselves, we beat ourselves up instead of trying again. WE ARE HUMAN! IT’S NORMAL TO MAKE MISTAKES. When are we going to put the beat up stick down? Why not start today? Everyday is a new day, a new opportunity, a time for growth and to get to know the real people that we are- aside from media’s ideals.

So we find ourselves at a crossroads. Which path are we going to choose? The one we have lived over and over that is comfortable because we know it? Or are we going to choose a different path, the unknown? Why are we so afraid to be true to ourselves- To own our power and ignite the passion and light inside of us? I ask you, what’s holding you back?

Look at the way you live your life- REALLY, REALLY LOOK! Are you doing what makes you happy or are you trying to fit in a mold or fit expectations to please others?

In my own opinion, our job while being here is to find joy, to love life- hell to love ourselves! How many women everyday say I want to look like this or I have to reach this level of perfection to be acknowledged or accepted. Who fucking cares?! Because in reality no one is paying that close of attention and if they are- it’s to distract from their own shit.

I propose a movement of self empowerment and freedom for all of us! What are you willing to do to be the true you? Start with the simple things, make a list. What’s your favorite color or your favorite thing to do? What are your likes and dislikes? Be honest and answer for yourself.

I’m on the same path now, learning the same things. I’ve always wanted to be a singer but I’ve been too afraid to own my voice and just do it! Who cares if i’m good or not so good. I love singing so I’m going to do it. I know my favorite color and it’s mine not because someone else put that there. We bind ourselves by our fears, what we think others think of us, if we will fit in and next thing you know we are trapped in a cycle of doing the same thing over and over and never being truly happy. So starting today, I pledge this movement to every man, woman, child- EVERYONE!! Who are you? Don’t be so afraid to step out of your comfort zone. It’s not only for you. The universe has a way of making things happen. You never know who you could help, who’s day you could make better or who’s life you could save by speaking your truth and setting yourself free.

No more holding back or being silenced. This is your moment now. Take it, Own it, share it. You have always had the power and strength in you so take that fear of the unknown and own it. It’s still not going to be perfect, it never will be. But I promise you will feel freedom, you will find strength and you will help others. We are on the road to self discovery together, so take my hand and lets take the path of the unknown. Only you can be the one to free yourself. Are you ready? Cause I sure as hell am!

break-the-chains

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” You will not be disappointed.

Please share, SHARE, SHARE this message!!!! Pass it along. You never know who might need a little encouragement!!

Thanks for all your support.

With love,

Ashleigh

me

When the going gets rough… Tie a knot and hang on!

When the going gets rough… Tie a knot and hang on!

This last week I’ve reached another point in my life where I started doing some heavy emotional work. In the past, when I have attempted doing Trauma work, it’s looked a lot like this:

“I’m freaking the hell out! I can’t do this! I’m a failure, why am I even trying? Relapse, get sober, act out on self harm, get back on track, feed into my eating disorder…….” The list and the cycle could go on and on.

I’m grateful today that it does not have to look like this when I’m walking through hard things. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not always graceful; but today more often than not, I’m able and willing to not only be open and honest about where I’m at, but also ask for what I need with out causing some major crisis.

When we have lived a life of hell, or even been through a major difficulty in our lives, we learn ways to cope or not cope. Some are healthy and some are not- but they obviously work for us- why else would we continue them?

This last week I have experienced days where I’m emotionally exhausted by noon and want to crawl back into bed. At times I have allowed myself these “adult time outs,” but I don’t allow myself to stay in bed all day. (Some days we may need that, it is what it is. It’s not “bad or good.”) Working through any kind of abuse is hard! More often than not, we have become accustomed to these “blocking beliefs” about ourselves. Some we created in our own minds as a way to explain what happened, some are placed there by others. Either way, the emotional work takes a lot of time and energy to begin to heal.

For me, it’s not just about realizing that what happened to me is not my fault… It’s retraining my brain into a new way of thinking and believing. I cannot tell you how many times a day I’m having to replace negative self talk with loving and compassionate self talk. Or how many times I have to give myself permission to feel what I’m feeling, rather than stuffing it. Our minds are powerful things and they pick up beliefs quickly. Our words have such a big effect on us and those around us.

There was a study done by Dr Emoto on the effect our thoughts have on us. He froze water and looked at the comparison of water in a jar that said positive things, IE: “Thank you, I love you, VS negative things: I hate you, you make me sick.” See the picture below: credited to Dr Emoto

Water Crystals  Masaru Emoto

Our Body is made up of 60-70% water… imagine now the power our thoughts and beliefs have on our mind and bodies.

I’m grateful for the work I have done and will continue to do. It’s just another step in moving forward with my life and owning it! It’s not always easy and most days lately have been emotionally draining… But what do we do when we are so spent and ready to give up? For me I see two possible options: I can continue down the shame cycle, belittling myself and everyone around me, or I can take a step back, take an emotional break, do some self care and hold on tight. Emotions come as waves. Sometimes it feels like a hurricane, but the feelings always pass. Feelings do not have that much power unless we give it to them. It’s taken me many years to learn and understand that concept and to apply it to my life.

No matter what you have been through in your life- You are worth it. You are worth happiness and love. Why? Simply because you exist. Life is hard at times and we go through hard things, but in my experience, it only makes us stronger. Not only that, but we then have the beautiful opportunity to share our experience with others who are where we once used to be. It empowers us, it helps us grow and we can soon see something positive come from the pain we felt that would never end. Who can you help today just by sharing your story? I hope at least one of my readers can find peace and hope in sharing mine!

You are beautiful! Don’t give up, you are so much stronger than you see!

Get back on the Mat

Get back on the Mat

Over the last year, I have developed a LOVE for Yoga. When I first started going, it was just to get away from the house, something fun to do with friends. Over the last few months specifically, I have gained a passion and found a freedom in it. I am still learning, and what I know is only from my own experiences and listening to my teacher. I’m using yoga as an example for the bigger picture.

Earlier this week, I had an experience where I felt fear and I wanted to run away from it. (This is how I used to deal with feelings, I ran. But today I choose not to run, rather walk through those emotions, even if they are uncomfortable.)  My fear then was: Fearing that I would backslide if I allowed myself to feel what was coming up in that moment, which was not having my voice heard. Shortly after, I then had a conversation with a friend on a different subject and somehow I came to the conclusion: “Maybe it’s just time to quit Yoga for now.” I was so quick to let that become my answer to how I would deal with my fear. Again- I would run. Once I realized this, I talked to my Yoga teacher about it. After a few different conversations and being able to realize what was really going on with-in me, he left me with a simple piece of guidance. He said “You have had time to reset and breathe, now it’s time to get back into the pose.” My interpretation: Get back on the mat. You can choose to look at this phrase in whatever way helps you connect to it most. Essentially, when we fall down, we have three choices. One: stay down, Two: pretend it never happened (denial, not taking accountability, ignoring..) or Three: we can choose to get back up. That power always lies in our hands.

How many times in life have we fallen down? Whether it is making a mistake, beating ourselves up, giving up, self sabotaging, and even at times, being brought down by the hand of another. Everyone has experienced falling down, it’s a part of life. But what can we learn from it? How can we use it to empower us, to help us grow?

No matter what life throws at us, we always at some point or another have a choice to get back up, to use it to our advantage. For some of us it may take years. For me personally, It took me many, many years to reach a point where not only did I finally want to stand back up, but I wanted to live. I wanted to thrive. It takes what it takes and there is no right or wrong in it. I truly believe that when we are ready, the change naturally begins to take place and the next thing we know, we are looking back on the last few months and seeing how far we have really come.

It’s okay to fall down. It makes us human. So often we believe that if we fall down and especially if others witness it, it makes us weak. It makes us failures. This is what our society is telling us- but is it truth? Only you can decide that for yourselves. For me, these experiences are usually not so pleasant, but boy do I learn. How many times have those who are successful today, failed? How many times did Thomas Edison fail at making the light bulb before he finally succeeded? Each time, he got back up and because he never gave up, we now have light in our homes.

Don’t give up because you fell down. It does not make you a failure. This life is full of ups and downs, but you have the power to make it into a triumph. When life gets hard, when it knocks you down hard just remember- take a breath, reset and when you’re ready, Get back on the Mat!

Finding Hope

Finding Hope

Hello fellow readers. I created this blog as a way to express my feelings, but more importantly in hopes that you, the reader, may be able to find strength and encouragement in my stories.

This life can be so exhausting at times. We are always rushing, trying to reach perfection and seeking approval from others. Not only do we create these challenges for ourselves; but life adds it’s own set of struggles or trials if you will. At some point in our lives, all of us have experienced pain. Whether it comes in the form of abuse, drug addiction, loosing someone we love, death, tragedy, natural disasters, depression, suicide, eating disorders, self harm… the list could go on and on. Many of us live in silence with our pain for one reason or another. Sometimes we are forced into silence, other times it may be out of fear. What ever our reason is, it keeps us stuck. It keeps us in a place of fear, panic, trying to control everything and “what if?” Someone once told me that out of our greatest pain and our greatest struggles, come our greatest lessons, blessings and strengths. The first time I heard this saying, I was a teenager and an angry one at that. I disregarded it thinking it was not true, thinking; if you knew what I have lived through you would understand why this can’t be true. But like usual, I came to learn over the years that I was wrong. Why? Because out of every single hardship or struggle I have endured, whether it was brought on by my own doing or because of others choices; it made me stronger.

I’ve spent so many years of my life in fear, in being a victim, self-pity, anger, resentment, or just plain miserable. What I did not realize then is that it is a choice. I did not have choice in what happened to me at the hands of others, but I had choice in how I responded or reacted. It took me years to accept this, because when I did, that meant I had to take a hard look at myself and stop blaming everyone around me, to take some accountability.

I want to share with you some parts of my story. The things I have lived through are not WHO I am, but rather helped mold me into the Woman that I am. I am not my story, it’s just a part of the life I’ve lived.

My first memory is at age three. I remember feeling scared, confused and alone at times. I did not understand what was happening to me. I thought it was my fault. The sexual abuse I went through started at age three and went on for many years, by many different perpetrators and in many different forms. By age nine, I needed an escape. I was filled with so much pain and guilt and shame. I blamed myself. The sexual abuse only grew into more abuse; physical, emotional and neglect. I needed an outlet. Thus began my long road of addiction. I started with self harm at the age of nine. By the age of eleven I was cutting multiple times a week. The next two years I felt like I was living hell on earth. I was being raped multiple times a week by my friends brother and step-dad and forced to watch other abuse, not being able to stop it. For the longest time I believe these two years broke me. I believed for so long I was damaged and “un-fixable.” My teenage years consisted of continued abuse, leading into getting pregnant and loosing my baby girl at about 4 months along. All of this I kept secret. I dealt with it all alone. By the age of sixteen, I started using drugs to numb the pain, to escape. Still continuing in self harm and also acting out on an eating disorder. At seventeen, I was homeless, emotionally unstable and using heroin. By nineteen I wanted to die, and I tried. The day I woke up in the hospital, I was livid. I hated the Idea of God and even questioned it, but what ever it was that kept me alive I hated with a passion. Looking back on this today, I am so grateful I survived. I’m so grateful I lived. In that moment though, I had a choice to make and I knew it. I could continue on living a life of drug addiction, misery and pain, or I could choose to do something different. Thus began my Journey of recovery and finding hope and freedom.

This is the Cliff notes version of my life. I could add more but that was about the gist of it over and over and today I choose not to focus on the past. I will share my story in hopes that it can bring someone else hope, to help them know that they are not alone and that they can live a very successful and healthy, happy life. I would have never thought my life could ever look like it does right now and I’m not talking materialistic things. The freedom I have today is beyond what I ever would have dreamed of. Don’t think I don’t have problem today. I still have challenges I get to face, some on a daily basis; but the fact is today, that I show up to life. I function in society. When others hear my story for the first time, they can’t believe I’m the same person. Today I choose freedom, today I choose me. I used to hate myself so much and believed that I was so unworthy of love, happiness or freedom. Today I know that not only am I worthy of these things just because I exist, but so is everyone else around me.

We are all worthy of love, we all deserve happiness in this life. No matter what you have been through, how hard your experience has been, You CAN find hope and a reason worth living. You have so much strength inside of you that you do not even realize. This life is not meant to be lived in fear, pain or struggle. Yes, we still go through these things, but it does not have to become our identity. It does not have to become our life. Imagine how many people you can bring hope to just by sharing your experience. Just by letting them know they are not alone. We spend so much time as a society focused on the negative, on what’s going on in others lives and comparing ourselves to what we see others portray. It’s not reality. Our Society has become so Ego driven, fake and based on the illusion of perfection. We are not this. We are human and we make mistakes, and it’s okay!

What makes you happy? Really think about it. If you were the only person in this world, what makes you happy? What gives you purpose and a reason worth living? Find that passion, live it, breathe it. Be the change.

I hope this post can help at least one person. Please check back in for updated posts, stories and inspiration. This is meant to uplift and be encouraging. If you post comments, please respect that. Lets help each other rather than tare each other down.

Namaste’

hope