It’s a new year! New beginnings, new goals, new dreams, new excuses. Ordinarily this time of year I cannot wait to jump into the new year with both feet. This year, however, is a little different. Starting back in November I started having abdominal pain. I was in severe pain, but I completely ignored what my body was screaming at me. I just kept pushing myself. I was too busy to have anything wrong. Finally, the pain was so severe I went to the emergency room. The worst-case scenario in my mind was I could have a kidney stone; whatever the problem I would have it fixed and be back to normal by morning. That however, was not the case. The physician ordered a CT of my abdomen and they found a very large cyst on my right ovary. The cyst was so large it was crushing a most of my internal organs. Next thing I knew I was being admitted and surgery was scheduled.
Initially the surgeon thought they would be able to remove the cyst laparoscopically, however due to the size of the cyst there was no way for the surgeon to remove the cyst that way safely; they were going to have to remove it like a cesarean. I was scared. At this point in my life I had never had anything medically wrong with me. I have never even had my wisdom teeth removed, and I am pretty sure I have never even had strep throat. This was major and terrifying. I was so blessed to have so many close friends and family who surrounded with me prayer and love to help me get through this ordeal.
Surgery ended up lasting a little longer than initially intended, but it was successful! One of the possibilities that we discussed prior to surgery was that I could lose my right ovary. During surgery, the surgeons discovered that the cyst was so large it has crushed my right ovary and fallopian tube so I lost both the ovary and fallopian tube. Luckily, I was able to be discharged just in time to spend Christmas with my family.
In a strange way I am thankful for this experience. I mean, it wasn’t the ideal way to spend the holiday, but it has put my life into perspective. Life is too short to stay angry or hold a grudge. Life is too short to not reach for your dreams. Life is too short to stay in a miserable work situation or relationship. We are only given this one life on earth to make a difference. There are some things in life we truly have no control over, but there are also many things within our power to change. In this new year I am choosing to live my life with purpose. Every moment is precious and should be spent with the people you love and doing the things you love. Life isn’t always warm and fuzzy and we go through trials, but I pray my response will not be to feel sorry for myself and sulk. There are always people who have dealt with much worse than my immediate situation. I know that what I went through is in no way as severe as what some families or even my family has gone through over the holidays or in everyday life. My reaction is my responsibility. I can choose to learn from the situation and grow to be a better Ashley, who can impact more people. I am choosing in 2018 to live everyday with purpose. You never know when your world can be turned upside down. When I look back this time next year I hope I see my year as a well lived one, not necessarily perfect, but filled with joy and growth.
The year has already begun, but every morning is a new opportunity to start fresh to live and love with purpose. I can’t wait for the adventure that awaits!
Cheers to the New Year!!!
One of my favorite times of the month is going to the mailbox, opening it up and finding my Sephora at Play Box!
This month was full of fun products!
#1 Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel
Claims: “Volumizing, water-resistant fiber gel mimics the look of real hair to create thick, lush looking brows.”
My Opinion: I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!! This gel holds my brow shape without being clumpy.
Will I Purchase? YES!!
#2 Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner in Black
Claims: “Easy-to apply, waterproof liquid eyeliner with a precision tip, dries fast with no smudges or running.”
My Opinion: I have thoroughly enjoyed this eyeliner. The formula doesn’t skip and glides very easily on the lash line. I have not tested out how extreme the waterproof the formula is,but I have not had any issues with smudging.
Will I Purchase? Possibly. I have a few others I love to use and have grown accustomed to using, but maybe on a whim one day.
#3 Devacurl Melt Into Moisture Matcha Butter Conditioning Mask
Claims: “Deep Conditioning mask cares for curly or wavy hair and infuses it with moisture for soft, frizz-free hair.”
My Opinion: I don’t have curly hair, but I do tend to have unruly wavy frizzy hair because of the humid climate I live in. One of the recommended directions is to sleep with it in your hair overnight. So I used my little shower cap and did just that..I liked it,but my coconut oil treatment I do every week does basically the same thing.
Will I Purchase? Probably not.
#4 Laura Mercier Velour Lovers Lip Colour in Happy
Claims: “Highly Pigmented yet moisturizing lip color with a satiny yet matte metallic finish.”
My Opinion: This product does everything it claims to do! It is the perfect shade for Fall!
Will I Purchase? More than likely!
#5 Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb
Claims: “Rich, satiny cream delivers comforting, intense hydration that helps to soften and visibly smooth skin.”
My Opinion: This stuff is AMAZING!!! My skin tends to be oily in my T-Zone, but I get super dry around my nose and on my chin. This product brought new life to my skin.
Will I Purchase: FOR SURE!! I have already ordered some!
Fragrance Sample for the Month: Pop by Stella McCartney
Super fun fragrance. Most likely will not repurchase,but I have had a fun time wearing it!
I always love getting my Sephora at Play Box! Definite hits this month and no misses!!
My dream location to have pictures taken has always been the library. Call me crazy, but the library has always been a safe and special place to me. Could be because my mother was a librarian when I was a child and I spent so many afternoons flipping through books after school. I love the smell of a library. I love that you can become anyone you want to be when you read the books at a library. My obsession with the library could be because my favorite movie of all time is Beauty and the Beast and the library scene to this day still takes my breath away.
So when I bought the most perfect green dress from Eshakti I knew instantly where
pictures needed to be taken!
The last picture makes me laugh. I look like a student from a Bible College brochure!
I love this dress. The fit is perfect. The tie is perfect at the waist to help give me an hourglass look. I love wearing green because I have green eyes and it also brings out the red in my hair. This dress is totally giving me vintage vibes and I couldn’t be more in love!! I’ve recently had to start wearing glasses. I tend to rebel against wearing them because I think they make my cheeks look more chubby then they already are, but I decided to embrace to glasses for this photo session!
Necklace: Kate Spade
Glasses: Optometrist 😄
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Dreams. So many children’s stories started out as dreams. Dreams are what made you believe in Prince Charming and animals could talk back. Okay, so maybe I am the only one who fell for that one! When is the last time you dreamed? Not just a dream while you were sleeping, but a take your breath away, knot in your stomach sort of dream? Remember when you were a child and you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you accomplish this dream? Did something make you change your dream? When I was a child I knew I wanted to be on television. Prior to that I wanted to be an astronaut, but when I realized I hated science and there was more to being an astronaut than just going to outer space to dance without gravity; I let that dream go! At first, I wanted to be a local news anchor. I would stand in my mirror and report fake news or when I was cooking I would channel my inner Martha Stewart and narrate everything I was adding to whatever dish I was creating (I made a lot of fancy peanut butter and jelly)
I will never forget the day the dream was planted in my heart to be a print journalist. Not just a journalist, but a magazine editor. My parents were getting married (that is another story for another day) and they asked certain couples to be each one of my siblings prayer couple. That means they would pray over us at the ceremony and pray for us throughout the year. My prayer couple surprised me with a years subscription to Brio Magazine. It was a publication for teen girls from Focus on the Family. I fell in love. I fell in love hard. I remember receiving it every month and reading it cover to cover the first day it came in the mail. I was in love with print journalism. I wanted to write articles on fashion, love and lifestyle, but the ultimate goal was to have Susie Shellenbergers job. I wanted to be editor in chief. My life was all planned out. I knew where I wanted to go to school, I began to journal and I read every magazine my parents would allow me to. I wanted to be well read so I could facilitate proper interviews and have knowledge of the world around me. My life was set and I was ready.
I started working when I sixteen and life began to happen. I had always been a dreamer, but I started to learn not all dreams came true. Somewhere along the way I gave up the dream to be editor in chief of Brio. I decided I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t good enough. I just wasn’t ENOUGH. I decided there must be people who get to live out their dreams and then there was me. What a complete load of hogwash!! I am sure there is a more eloquent word I could use to describe it, but hogwash will do the job. I could have lived out my dream. I could have worked my butt off to achieve my dreams. I am the one who gave up. The beautiful thing about dreams is they never truly go away. That dream has remained a slow burn in my heart since I was twelve years old. I may not ever get to be the editor in chief of Brio magazine,but my new dream if for this blog to be an outlet for that dream. The posts on this blog will vary in nature. The hope is some will be thought provoking, some will be outfits of the day, others will follow me as I travel! I want this blog to be a place for fun and growth for myself and all who read it. My hope is that you will get a vision of my dream and share it with your world. While you are sharing my dream why not think about the last time you dreamed and what happened to that dream. Did you accomplish everything you ever dreamed about? Did life knock you down and you just could not find the strength to get back up? Did your dream change? I encourage you to close your eyes and dream. I personally believe every dream is a seed planted in your heart by God. He allowed you to have the dream for a reason. Maybe you are supposed to learn something on the road to your dream. A dream is how your story begins. It is up to you if your story gets written. Always know, YOU. ARE. ENOUGH. Our Heavenly Father made you enough. Dream a little dream or dream a big dream. Just dream.
I have always been a chubby kid. I was born very cuddly. The best part was I never had any idea I was overweight. Weight did not become something I even realized was an issue for me until I was almost 11 years old. I knew I was chunkier then the other girls in my class, but it never held me back. I still loved cheerleading camp and I was always hanging upside down from the monkey bars. I even remember going to basketball camp one summer between first and second grade. The baby feminist inside of me was so annoyed that only the boys could be on the “skins” team when we played shirts and skins. Well, I showed those coaches. Fortunately or unfortunately my body developed early so by that time I was already wearing a training bra. So when it was time for the drills to begin I very emphatically stated I was on the skins team and whipped off my shirt revealing my very cute white and pink flowered training bra. Needless to say I ended back on the shirts team and was quickly informed why I must keep my top on when I was at camp.
I started to realize I was overweight when I was about 11..my biological father and his wife were getting married and she decided to purchase mine and my sisters bridesmaids dresses for the wedding without us there to try them on. When we finally tried them on it was just over a month before the wedding. My sisters dress fit perfectly on her cute frame. Mine however, pulled and was too tight in the hips. The look of disappointment will forever be engrained in my mind. She tried to play it off like it wasn’t a big deal, but the alternative was taking one of her high school dresses from the late 80’s and taking it in and “modernizing” it. That’s when I realized I wasn’t going to be dressed like everyone else. My independent spirit never like dressing like everyone else, but I knew at a wedding I would stick out like the chunky, overweight thumb that I was. I knew I would be miserable if that was my fate. This was when I first learned to start skipping meals. I remembered an episode of Full House. The one where DJ starves herself…it made an impression on me. Up to this point in my life I loved food. But I had a fairly normal relationship with food. I wasn’t an emotional eater. I truly enjoyed the way food tasted. So I started skimming back and instead of enjoying playing outside I pushed myself to be overly active. Every movement had to count.
Weeks went by and when the “modernized” dress was finished I was supposed to try it on. It was way too large. So my biological fathers wife had me try on the original dress for kicks and giggles. It. Fit. Perfectly. The pride I felt when I made her proud of me and I accomplished the goal of wearing a dress like everyone else is a feeling I will also never forget. But what that feeling did was create a very unhealthy relationship with food, and my body from that moment forward. I never ate just for fun anymore. All of a sudden I realized I was so much heavier then all the other girls my age. At the ripe age of 12 my womanly curves had kicked in full force and I looked awkward. Clothes fit me funny because I was still chunky, but now I had boobs! I went from coasting at a B cup for a few years to overnight at 12 have a D cup.
The eating disorder took a form all its own. I spent years binging and purging until my Mom found out. But my relationship with my body and food was already tarnished at that point. I knew I was always beautiful to my parents. There was never a day that went by that my Papa or my Mama didn’t tell me how beautiful I was and how God created me so unique and perfect. Why aren’t those the voices that ended up recorded on the tapes in my head? Instead, I had the mean things boys would say and the mean things girls would say. Girls were the worst once I reached middle school and high school. I know now that they were on the same sort of journey I was on to figure out their relationship with their bodies. Unfortunately, a lot of girls chose to tear me down to make themselves feel better and it wasn’t just girls, grown women also had things to say.
There are some days I wish someone had taken my face in their hands and had told me that I was beautiful just the way I was. I wish someone had said “Ashley, God made us all different. But you are just as beautiful as the rest.” My parents tried to do that. Sadly, negative voices are always louder.
If I could go back in time and have a sit down conversation with my 11 year old self I would tell myself that..you are enough. You are beautiful. Beauty has all shapes and all sizes. You are loved for more than just your outward appearance. You are loved for your heart and your mind. The game of comparison is quicksand. Once you start with one thing you will never be able to get out. I would tell myself that I am going to have a wonderful life in spite of all the negative comments and unrealistic beauty standards that will be placed upon me. I would tell myself to live! Dance! Sing! Don’t stop dreaming!
The journey I am on now to learn how to love myself as I am as a 26 year old is a rocky one. Some days I just want to pick myself apart in the mirror. Other days I can recite Psalms 139:14 and believe it. I can’t go back in time, but I can start now. I can develop healthy self esteem now and help other girls and women realize its not too late. It’s never too late.