Everyday

A letter to my father on Mother’s Day

Dear daddy,

Hey there, how have you been?  I hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying whatever it is out in that big great unknown.  Tell grandma Mary, grandma Betty and grandpa that I say hello.  Oh and please give Raspberry and Pudge a pat on the head for me!  I hope they are keeping you company and your lap warm.

So today is Mother’s Day and  I wanted to thank you for giving me the best gift I could have ever asked for.  I know you paid the ultimate sacrifice but you didn’t leave us, it was just your time to go.

Thank you for giving me my mother back.

I missed her so much over the past 13 years and now I get to spend the first of many more holidays together.  Even though I wish it could have been on better terms, I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to spend time with her again (you understand, you were with her over 40 years).

Sure we have our moments, but just so you know, mom is doing just fine.  She misses you like crazy and still talks about you like you are here.  But I have seen her grow so much in the short amount of time you have been gone.  She is so much stronger than she gives herself credit for.  Honestly, I’m just so proud of her.

She helps us around the house and thinks your son-in-law is a hoot.  She laughs at the crazy songs I sing for all the animals (yeah you’re a grandpa to 5 fur babies).  And I know you would have never guessed it, but Mom has fallen in love with our newest family member, Lola!  I know, right?  Mom loving a dog so dearly; I never would have seen it coming either.  We rescued Lola but in so many ways she has rescued us and helped us all through the hard days.  I think about you a lot when I go on walks with her.  I think you would have liked her.  Lucy is still not too sure and I think she misses you too.  She lays in your chair a lot and sleeps there at night.

But back to mom.  I notice more and more that she doesn’t worry as much and I think she likes herself better more each day.  Being vegan suites her just fine and I like when we have dinner together every night.  I cook and she cleans and it’s just nice to feel like a family again.  She’s lost weight and has been so excited to buy new clothes.  She spends money a little more freely now, nothing crazy but just enjoys herself more (sometimes I have to remind her of what you would say “just buy the damn thing”).  She has become so much more spontaneous and just “goes with the flow” when it comes to last-minute vegan hot dogs or ice cream trips!  We laugh together a lot and are there for each other no mater what is going on.  Sometimes she is stubborn but you already know that!  I try my hardest to be the best daughter and wife and fur-mommy I can be.  You had something to do with that and I hope I still make you proud from wherever you are.

Sorry I keep getting off target.  So mom’s still not too keen about living in Texas but I think it is growing on her more and more everyday.  Sunny days are her best times.  I got her a necklace with a little sun to remind her of the better times.  We go for walks together with Lola a lot and while I work she makes sure the fur babies are safe and well fed.  We even have little happy hours in the backyard and watch our crazy neighbors.  She spent her first week alone with all 5 animals while Hector and I went to Hawaii.  Again, something we couldn’t have done without your gift to us.  I had a good time visiting with you there.  When you look into the ocean and realize how small you are it’s easier to connect to those who have passed on.  The beauty was amazing and I hope wherever you are is just as beautiful.

I also wanted you to know that I have tried my hardest to keep up my end of the deal as well.  I said I would make sure we took care of each other without you and we have.  Hector loves mom too.  He likes having a little family to take care of and he wishes it could have turned out differently.

Truth is, we all miss you.  Whether there is a holiday or a vacation or just another day, we all think about you everyday.  You are with us all the time, but I know you already know that.

I love you,

Ashley

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Everyday

Solo performance

Music is so, so powerful. You can see how much power it has over the violinist or pianist as they perform with their instrument.  It’s almost like they are dancing.  Just as it can play with our emotions, it can also heighten our senses.  The first few chords of that certain, life altering song, can take you back to any previous place in time. You can feel the feelings as they just happened yesterday.  The tenderness of your first kiss, the fear of the time you almost wrecked your car, the sadness as you watched someone disappear right in front of you.  I can’t really think of anything else in my life that can do this.  Some songs can dig up memories I haven’t thought about in years.  Remembering so many things that I thought were forgotten.  The heart lets them go but the memories are always there, locked away in our subconscious.  The other night I got out of a soak in our bathtub where I held my own private concert.  I had my “I Love that Song” playlist on and was trying to shuffle my music but for some reason Siri wanted me to listen to (and perform) Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” over and over again.  It actually put me in a really great mood.  When I perform, there is not only an attempt at singing but also an array of movements and “dances” that allow me to really feel what I am listening to and just super relax.

So why is it, when I could use this pick-me-up the most that I tend to shuffle to the most depressing songs in my library instead?  Slow, sad songs that really amplify whatever it is that I am trying to forget.  Downer songs.  Just like a drug, you listening to them thinking that they will make you feel at peace, but instead they bring you down the twisting path into the deepest, darkest parts of your own mind.  Yes, you start thinking about everyone that you have ever hurt.  Ever loved.  Lost.  How your life is just passing you by.  That you are tired of working for someone else’s dream.  What does it all really mean?  And what about the end?  That’s what happened earlier when I listening to Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind”.  All the sadness and fear started to startle my calm mind.  But literally as soon as a more up beat song came on everything changed.  I will never be able to completely forget the sad memories I have but instead I can turn around my way of thinking, reshuffle my music and try to focus more on the things that really matter.

Life is what is happening right now.  What soundtrack do you want to add to it?

 

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Appalachian Trail, Blogging, Everyday

Here, is where I belong

The other day I had a friend that I haven’t talked to for a while email and ask me if I was still going to hike the trail.  See, I had planned on doing a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine in the spring of 2017 (see blog posts starting here).  He lived in Georgia at the time and was considering starting off with me just for the weekend.  Things in my life changed and as my start date got closer and closer (April 10th), I realized that this year was not going to be the right time for me.  Even though I was a little disappointed I was also a little relieved.  The year before I was in a weird place in my life where I felt like I needed to alter my viewpoint and what better place to do that then on a 2100+ mile trek?  I felt the need to walk out of my life and walk into a trail life for what could be over 6 months.  Although my family and friends were supportive, I think they were all relieved as well that I had changed my mind.

A couple of months before what would have been my start date, I had let one of my 13-year-old cats cross the rainbow bridge because she was loosing her battle with cancer.  It was devastating and as I was going through those emotions, I couldn’t even imagine leaving my husband and our other cat behind at the time.  So April came and went and then in the summer I had to face an even bigger loss in my family when my father passed away from cancer as well.  If I had been on the trail, I might have been too late to have ever said goodbye and I can’t imagine how my life would have been after that.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and there was a higher power that was holding me back from the hike so that I would be able to be with my loved ones in a massive time of need.

I replied back to my friend that, for now, I didn’t have a new start date in mind.  Not that I would rule it out for the rest of my life but that my life had changed so much in the past 6 months that I have been looking at it differently.  I told him that “…before my father died, I felt the need to find myself on the trail, but after he died I feel like I have found myself right where I am.  If that makes sense”.

And even though I don’t know exactly what 2018 is going to look like, I am confident that I will discover even more of who I am, right here where I belong.

 

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Everyday, Vegan

Vegan 2017

The times could finally be changing.  I watched a great YouTube video this morning put out by Plant Based News called:  Vegan 2017.  It documented the shift of going to a plant-based or vegan diet and it is picking up speed worldwide.  I will let this video speak for itself.  I hope it helps to open everyone’s eyes to the changes that need to be made for all of mankind as well as for ALL life on the planet.

There is the link!  Enjoy and lets make 2018 speak even louder!

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Blogging, Everyday, Fitness

I felt consumed

I was up at 5am for some early morning speed work at the track.  It was crazy cold, with feels like temp of about 35 degrees (well crazy cold for Central Texas).  So I layered up, ate my sweet potato breakfast and was out the door.  It was really dark at the track and only 3 other people showed up.  The work was hard; 8×400 repeats at about 5k pace with 2 mins rest between.  The view was great as the sun began to start it’s day.  If camera contact lenses existed, I would have taken a picture.  We were also taunted by an owl; with each lap came his distinct ho hoo.  He probably watched us and thought we were all crazy running around and around in circles.  His day was coming to an end while I was just starting.

It felt good to have gotten that accomplished before most people had even had their first cup of coffee.  The runner’s high did wear off pretty quickly into the progressing day.  Work was taxing.  My work has never really been “hard” in the almost two years I’ve been there, but there is a first for everything.  I had the Midas Touch but in the worst possible way.  Everything I touched turned to absolute shit.  It was horrible and I let it get to me.  I could feel anxiety creeping in to take over my day.  It wound up being 7 long hours of nothing good.  7 hours that I just wanted to end more than anything.  I wanted nothing more than to come home, draw a hot bath for my achy muscles, and wash away my tears fears.

I finally came home.  It was finally time to unwind.  I went to my soaker tub, poured the epsom salt, started the hot water, and put on some of my favorite music.   I mentally eased my way into relaxation.  After a couple drags, I began to think.  I thought about the music I was listening to.  It made me think about my dad.  I wondered if he had been scared during the last hours of his life?  I think about things like that a lot.  Death is so foreign to me and so out of anyone’s control.  I felt consumed.  I became consumed by my own morbid thoughts.  But then the music crept back into my mind.  “……echoed in the wells of silence.  And the people bowed their heads and prayed……”  I really want to make a video using that song*.  I would dedicate it to my father.  I wanted to share it with the world.  Should I go back to school?  Would I be able to make it?  To learn?  To teach and be heard?  I have no idea, but I feel a need to share my thoughts.  Maybe I need to talk to someone?  Sometimes I wonder how I get around these feelings.  What was I doing?  What will tomorrow look like?  What about the space between?

I got out of the tub and finally felt relaxed and ready to end the day.  Tomorrow had to be better.  There would be another sun rise waiting for me in the morning.  There would be another workout to tackle and another day to go onto.  Another day to love my family and miss my dad.  Another day closer to figuring it all out.  I wonder if the owl has nights like this?

 

 

 

 

**Song reference was to:  The Sound of Silence, composed by Paul Simon.  But by far my favorite rendition was performed by Disturbed.  I highly recommend listening to it here if you have never heard it before.  It is very powerful.

 

 

 

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Blogging, Everyday, Running

Gotta do what you got to do

Something that I have heard a lot of writers or authors say to aspiring writers is that some days you have to sit down and write even when you don’t want to.  Today is that day for me.

Writing when you don’t have the urge to, is like try to make a baby when you are not in the mood.  Come on hunny, I’m ovulating!  I know your tired and just got done mowing the lawn but if we don’t do it now, we will have to wait another month.  Sure it could turn out to be fun, and hopefully will pay off in the end but damn if you aren’t in the mood, you aren’t in the mood.  Ugh.  Everyday that passes that I don’t write is just another day wasted towards my dreams.  If I want my writing to take off, well then I HAVE TO write.  Just as simple as that.

I’ve also been feeling that way when it comes to my running.  I am currently signed up to do the Austin 3M Half Marathon at the end of January and right now I can barely get past running 3 miles, let alone 13.1.  My training should have started a month ago and I am in need of some new shoes as well. Excuses, excuses, excuses.  I have been keeping up with my strength training twice and week but my endurance is shot.  Plus, it doesn’t help that central Texas has not decided on what season we are in yet.  Running when it is hot and humid is why I don’t run in the summer.  Running when it is warm and humid and DECEMBER is just a cruel joke.  I am a cold weather runner.  60 degrees and under is my ideal running weather.  When it is 75 degrees and just as humid, I have a really hard time moving one foot in front of the other.  I did manage to get up and do 6×100 meter repeats on Wednesday morning.  Stupid me also did my first leg workout in two weeks the day before that.  My calves felt like water balloons ready to pop and foam rolling was excruciating.  Thank goodness our new house came complete with a soaker tub in the master bathroom!  Epsom salt to the rescue (along with some well, lets just say recreational plants of choice) to really help take the edge off.  Ahhhhhh relax-o time.  By Saturday I got back out and did my first 4 mile run in months.  It was rough but just like the baby making and writing, it had to be done.  And afterwards I felt really glad that I did it, just as I do now because I wrote about it.

But seriously, I need to get my shit act together.  Whether with writing or running (no baby making for me) it’s time to get back out there.

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Blogging, Everyday

To be better

I was granted some much-needed time off from work for the next month.  The time was to allow me to start to make sense of all the changes I have been faced with in these last 6 months.  (For anyone that doesn’t follow me, to sum it up my dad got sick and passed away from colon cancer in the summer and now my mother is living with my husband and I.)  The most current change was moving into a new house over Thanksgiving weekend.  So besides my mind being a big mess, so is my house.  But as boxes are slowly disappearing and our house is feeling more like our home, I feel like I can finally get my personal life back on track.

There have been so many things that I have had come to a complete stop ever since my dad got sick.  The list of “I haven’t done this since….” has become overwhelming.  When you have to stop doing the things you love to start taking care of the heavy things in life, you can lose balance on your happiness meter quite fast.  Sometimes I don’t even feel like myself anymore.  I mean, I know that a part of me has now changed forever.  The person I was before my father died will forever be a different person now.  And that door will swing both ways.  In some ways, I hope to be an even better person in his honor but in other ways, loosing a parent has reshaped my outlook of life.  We take so much for granted and we tend to lose focus on what is really important.

Right now what has been really important for me is to get back to my writing.  I can feel this little flame burning inside of me.  I want to do something big.  Something important that will hopefully reach others in some way.  I definitely want to be blogging more again.  Through my blogging I become a better writer.  It is like a daily tune up for my skills (or lack there of).  And even though I’m not sure at all where to start, I have always toyed with the idea of writing a book someday.  Even if it is just an e-book on Amazon; it is defiantly something that I have added to my bucket list.

But I need to get motived and organized with my thoughts and dreams.  I am thinking about starting a bullet journal to help with that.  I have no idea how I stumbled across bullet journaling but I think it could be a great way to help me focus my time and my thoughts throughout the day, plus it will provide me with a creative outlet.  (Here is a great link that will help explain the idea of a bullet journal better.  And for anyone who already has a BUJO, please feel free to tell me about it in the comments!)

I would also like to take a writing class that Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalist offers to hone my skills.  The only real schooling I have had with my writing is a little dated (over 15+ years ago and very standardized).  I have always loved to write for as long as I can remember.  I won first prize in the literature portion of my elementary schools Arts Fair when I was in 6th grade.  I took creative writing in high school and college, wrote for my high schools literary magazine and have journaled for years prior.  I find it so much easier to really express myself through written words and I have a passion for reading as well.  Blogging has been a wonderful way to step into a new era of “story telling/idea sharing” but I’m not sure if my blog is at the level to really speak to anyone (thank you to each and every one of my 98 followers).

I want to make it better.  I want to make me better.

I hope to help heal myself through my writing.  I really just want to feel like me again.  I want to stop missing things and start creating new wonderful and exciting things and ideas.  I want to reach people and hope to touch them on a level that I never knew I was capable of.  I want to create.  To live.  To love.

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