Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Medicine of 2019




January brought Strength and Vision
February celebrated Love and Growth
March created Peace and New Energy
April manifested Truth and Motivation
May was Heart-Breaking and Compassionate
June showed Confidence and Perspective
July was Shakey, yet Determined
August Showed Desire and Bliss
September created Change
October remained Present and Gentle
November brought Patience
December Gave Clarity and Intention


I set the intention to look back on the Year 2019 and discover all that I have gained instead of lost. I believe that sometimes when we look back on the previous year all we tend to focus on is sadness, death, heart-break, and struggle. And I made the choice to see not what we aren't bringing with us into the New Year but rather to see what we are bringing with us. As reflection arises, I'll look at Gain instead of Lack. I'll look at Gratitude instead of Greed. Like will only attract like - and I refuse to bring heavy, negative baggage with me into this upcoming Year and Decade. Our greatest gifts come from Gratitude and I'm abundantly grateful for the lessons each month has taught me along the way this year.

Has it been easy? Absolutely Not. However, Balance = Healing. and I realize how much I needed to struggle from time to time in order to heal and emerge. My Word of the Year 2019 was GO and although I wasn't entirely sure what that meant at the beginning of the year; I now have a better perspective on what "Go" would come to mean for me. Go was short for KEEP GOING. On the first of the year I was met with the mantra: "There is Medicine in my Shadow" and it became my quest in understanding what exactly that meant. Truthfully, we aren't in a deep understanding. However, I have gained some knowledge and insight along the way. When I began Therapy in October, I knew that talking through my darkest moments and reflecting on them would bring medicine - Infact it would manifest itself as the medicine I would come to need the most - Compassion, and as long as I kept going, I'd come to learn more and more about what compassion truly was.

Choosing to live with Compassion is making the choice to honor our humanness. A Human that is bruised, wounded, cracked, mistaken, faulted, and reactive. But a human who is also healing, togther, graceful, rising, loving, forgiving, and peaceful. So my question has been: How Will I Honor Both? My Answer is this: To Lead with Compassion, Give Grace Unconditionally, Expand with Love, Choose Understanding, and Embrace the Fault. With the Reminder to not Practice compassion, rather though, to commit with compassion. Lead with compassion intentionally. Compassion is fuel for intention, Intention is fuel for growth. Growth is fuel for love. Commit to Love. Just Love. Only Love. Always Love.

Because here is the thing, we could all use a little more compassion in our lives; for ourselves and to others. Everyone is just trying to Keep Going - in whatever direction they are being pulled in. This year, I learned, I accepted that direction is different for everyone and it's okay. Let me repeat: It's Okay. It's Okay to greet a fork in the road with people, places, and things - and choose to part ways. Does it make it easy? Heck No. Maybe your paths will cross again and maybe they won't and that's okay too. Honor the path you've taken, though may it be winding, it will lead you to where you are supposed to be. Have faith in that and just Keep GOing. Release the control (this is hard for me) and let yourself GO with the ebbs and flows of life. Cry when you need to, even scream a little, but ultimately be abundantly grateful for the experiance. 

As we head into 2020, I lead with compassion and I commit fully to the experiances that compassion will show up in. I will Keep GOing, with direction of the winding road and gentle wind. I'll take the lessons I have learned along the way and apply them to each day, with grace. And I am sending you all, if you may find yourself reading this, Love and Compassion through your experiances. 

Keep GOing, My Darlings. This is yOUR year. 



Thursday, December 19, 2019

Life After the Surrender

Oh! Hello There, Old Friends.

I never expected that falling into surrender in mid-august would bring me to a 4 month period of silence on my blog. I didn't want to write here; in fact all I wanted to do was curl up with a notebook and a pen - and so that's what I did. I'm not sure what has triggered me to open up my laptop and write this post but I'm not letting it pass me by because honestly, I've missed my blog and this outlet. I've also missed the small connection it has brought me to you, the readers.

Since it's been some time, let's do a update on life, shall we? But I should warn you that although it's been 4 months, it's been more quiet around here than exciting. Surrender has meant Stillness and silence. And for once, I'm totally okay with that because it's been nice. 

Mentally.
I have been going through it, mentally. It's been no secret that my focus has been on my mental health over the last year and a half. I've been to the ER, twice now, with panic attacks in which manifested themselves has health scares (like thinking I was going into cardiac arrest). I also have made the decision to begin taking CBD Oil, which is a post I can do in itself. I began taking it towards the end of July and I can definitley see the difference in myself and my life. I'm also taking anti-anxiety medication perscribed by my doctor but we are on the path of trying to bring me more natural, holistic approaches. In October, I begun Therapy. It has been the scariest yet most exciting moment of my 2019 thus far. I have battled with the thought of seeing a therapist since I was a teenager due to the media representation and the stigma behind going to Therapy. But now I can see, Therapy is something that is needed and I reccomend it fully to everyone. In the short 2 months I have been going, I have seen such a difference in myself and how I navigate through life with my Anxiety and Depression. Therapy has been a game changer in my opinion. Not every day has been easy on my Mental Health, but I am starting to see that warm, bright light that is reminding me daily that I have to keep going and that I CAN do this because I am worthy of it. I am worthy of a Healthy Mind and a Beautiful Life. It's a work in progress and I'm not done working..

Phyically.
I am healthy, physically. Even though my mental state has often told me I wasn't. I have seen the doctors more times in the last year and a half than I have in years. But Physically, I am in the clear. In other terms of physically health: I am still taking the steps to remove myself from triggering situations, I'm putting myself into more fullfilling spaces, and I'm making physical changes in my life that contribute to my overall being. It's been a task on most days but it's also getting eaiser and more liberating as I do it. Learning to say "NO" to things and learning to say "YES" to others is something a think we need to focus more on. 


Spiritually.
I am finding my place. I want to write a deeper post about this, honestly. But what I can say now is this: Once I began shifting my energy to Faith, Intention, Growth, and my Spritiual beliefs and practices - WOW! The transformation has brought me to such a wonderful place that I never expected. And for once, I'm not afraid of it. I have always felt like I needed to hide the things I believe in or needed to explain myself even when it doesn't make sense to others. Yet, diving more into my spirtiual practice and beliefs has brought me a new sense of Self that I have always known to be there, for as long as I can remember, but that Self now has the room to sore freely amoung this etheral plane. 



These are just a few of the many changes that have happened in my life within the last 4  months, and I want to dive deeper into them. I am ready to come back and write again, for I know I have so much to write about for the upcoming season of my life aka the New Year and New Decade (What!)

And so, I'll leave you all with this, in true Ashlee fashion:
Allow yourself to fall down and fall into surrender. Don't fight it, just go with the flow even if that means you become a hermit for 4 months. It's needed. It's a winter hibernation in of sorts. Which makes sense because the Winter Solstice is this weekend! 

Stay Tuned, My Loves. I'm Back and ready to get to work...

Love Yourself & Love Other People


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Surrender.



Surrender.
As in - Let go, Stop Resisting, Stop forcing. 
Surrender.
As in - Be Still and Listen.

Let's be honest for a moment, I am not one to surrender and be still. Nor am I the one to listen. I have the need to be right in the middle with the knowledge to know everything that is going on. If though I know I have no control over various  most situations -  Letting Go is still a challenge for me. So now, here I am, sitting on our front porch listening to the soft wind and the crow singing out above me. This comes after a day where I so desperately wanted to crawl under my bedsheets and cry. I woke up emotional and uneasy as I do most days nowadays. Yet I knew that I was meeting one of my dearest friends for lunch this afternoon and I just needed to keep it together until then. But on my way to meet her, my car stalled and wouldn't get power enough to move. I tearfully called my truck driving husband at work and cried that he needed to send one of his co-workers to come to get me and my car. The emotions of the day got me. When my friend picked me up, as we still made it a point to go to lunch, I sat in her car and said: "Well, I'm raising my white flag, my hands are up in the air, and I surrender." 

The word surrender has been poking at me for over 2 weeks now. I would hear it in a song, someone around me would say it, or I'd read it in a book. I keep thinking "Okay, I get it. Surrender!" but then I'd roll my eyes and keep doing whatever I was doing. Which was trying to keep my anxiety and depression under the best control that I could. I knew there was something that I needed to do and I knew that something was to sit back, look up, and say "Okay God. I'm laying it all down at your feet and I'm giving it all up to you to decide what happens next." But, with me being the overbearing control freak that I am. I couldn't do it, not full-heartedly at least. And then my car broke down and that was it. Full-heartedly, I threw my head back with tears in my eyes and said: "What now?" but no answer. I moved through the rest of my day doing all I could to keep my mind and body busy. When I got home, I went to my space where I meditate, pray, do yoga, and write. I saw the sticky note I had placed a few weeks ago on the backboard of the bookcase with the words "I SURRENDER TO THE FLOW," written in all caps and a black marker. I grabbed my sticky note pad and wrote two words: GOD PROVIDES. They are two words I had repeated to myself back in June of 2018 when I felt defeated and lost. God Provides. God Provides. God Provides. On the second sticky note I wrote my mantra of the year 2019: "WHERE THERE'S SHADOW, THERE IS LIGHT."  A very cliche but true quote that you can find in one of my favorite songs "Battle Cry," by Kyler England. 

I fell to my knees, bent my forehead down to the floor with my arms out wide, palms up and whispered an old worship song we used to sing before every show when I was growing up in musical theater. 

"I cast all my cares upon you. I lay all of my burdens down at your feet. And when I don't know what to do. I cast all my cares upon you."

I lay in silence - my heart, mind, body, and every ounce of my soul down at the lowest point I have been at. Surrendering. Letting Go. Not asking questions. Not seeking anything other than my breath. 

"Okay Child, Get Up. We Got Work to Do."

Is all I felt in my body. It's all I heard. It's all I knew at that exact moment. To Rise. To Move. To Keep Going. Undoubtedly towards tomorrow. 

Surrender.
As in - Let go, Stop Resisting, Stop forcing. 
Surrender.
As in - Be Still and Listen.

Ok God, I'm Up. Let's Get to Work!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A Hippie's Guide to Coffee Meditation



Let me paint your morning - It's natural to wake up to the sound of your alarm ringing after the 4th snooze and jumping to make it out the door on time. It's even more natural to grab your coffee to go and rush into the meeting you were almost late for while spilling your coffee down the front of that new blouse you just bought - and now, you're coffee stained, frustrated, and already over the day in total. 

Now think about tomorrow morning and what you could do differently. You can set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and push snooze only twice. You can wake up before the rest of your house, do a 10 Minute Morning Meditation before even leaving your warm, comfortable sheets. And then you can enjoy a fresh, hot cup of homemade coffee before you begin your day. You'll have time to get ready at a steady pace and make it to the office with 15 minutes to spare. The rest of the day may be full of the usual hustle and bustle but you are able to get through it calmly and efficiently. 

Calm Morning = Calm Mind = Calm Day = Calm Sleep.Repeat Daily.


I learned the art of enjoying a cup of coffee at the age of 3, probably sooner if I'm being honest. My Dad is well-known as "Mr. Coffee" or "Captian Coffee," because he is never without. We blame it on his 37-year profession of being a Fire Fighter that brought him to enjoy a cup of coffee at any time in the day or night. I've seen this man drink a freshly brewed cup at 1:45am and be asleep soundly at 2am. It's Magic. But I'm pretty sure my dad had his first cup of coffee at 3yrs of age too because my grandparents were also never seen without a cup in their hands. It's a Family Thing. 

I've seen my dad, uncles, and grandfathers exchange old war stories over coffee. I've seen grandma and grandpa read their morning newspaper while dipping their toast into fresh black coffee. I've seen my sister make any type of coffee you desire after years of working as a barista at the towns local coffee shop. It's only my right of passage to love coffee as much as I do. Like everyone else, I used to use it as a dose of caffeine to keep me awake during finals week and study sessions. It became my right hand during cosmetology school and again when I had to be at a Bridal Suite at 7am for Hair and Makeup. So I began thinking, "How Can I enjoy my coffee more?" - I grew up in a time when coffee was meant to be enjoyed, Huggelig style, with friends and family; and I was eager to get back to this great past time. I decided to mix it with something I know best - Meditation. 

HOW TO DO COFFEE MEDITATION

Call me Old-Fashion but I like to grind my own coffee beans. There is just something about the aroma that fills the room when each little bean begins to crack and split. I, however, know that not everyone wants to hassle with grinding coffee beans and I also know that most of the coffee made these days are from premade pods. Whatever way you do it, I don't judge, it's all about personal preference when it comes to coffee and meditation. Really, My Dad likes his coffee, Black. That's it - no sugar or creamer or milk. Black. I, on the other hand, am a coffee with my creamer and not creamer with my coffee kind of gal. Don't get me wrong, I love the taste of coffee. But I love the taste of creamer too. To Each Its Own. 


  • While the coffee is brewing I like to stretch focusing on my arms and legs. I'll place my hands on my counter and lunge back to get a nice stretch through my extended leg. I'll curl my toes under and lightly rock to get some nice movement in my toes before switching legs.) I'll do some light arm circles forward and then back, rolling my wrists lightly and wiggling my fingers.

  • Don't forget to breathe! Not only do you want to align with your breath but you want to fill your lungs with that sweet aroma of coffee. It's the best part, in my opinion. 

  • Before I put in my light stevia and creamer I like to hold the coffee mug in my hands to feel the warmth. There is nothing like a warm mug to send a calm, peaceful feeling through your body. I like to close my eyes and express Gratitude for stillness, for clarity, mental strength, and the ability to be present. 

  • I use my stevia and creamer as intentions. As I pour each ingredient into my mug and stir them together I set 3-4 intentions for the day. I look at each ingredient and intention as my ingredients for a good day - I could have titled this post "How to Brew a Great Day" - or something like that. 

  • As I take my first sip, I like to plant my feet into the ground; sometimes in my kitchen or sometimes I'll step into my front yard and dig my feet into mother earth. I take a few deep breaths before the first sip and then savor the moment of warmth and stillness. I give Thanks, once more, and I begin my day.

I always tell people that it doesn't matter how you meditate as long as you do it. It takes time, dedication, and practice to find what works for you. I don't believe there is a perfect way to meditate or right way. Meditation is customizable and that's why I like my Coffee Meditation. Many people say they can't sit still long enough to ease their minds - and I get it. But meditation doesn't need to be an hour-long practice. Meditation can be easing your mind, being present, and giving thanks over your morning coffee. It's that simple.

**You can also apply this to morning tea if you aren't a coffee drinker - Remember how I said it's customizable, YAY!!

Cheers to a simpler morning!