The world is constantly trying to tell us things and whether we are open to hear them is really up to us. Lately I’ve been reading articles, listening to interviews and watching TV shows and even commercials, and the one thing that keeps popping up, that keeps repeating itself is that we only get one life.
We only get one life. One. There’s no do-overs, there’s no second chances.
I’m sure this doesn’t surprise you but if you’re like me, and you’re not doing what you love, your life lacks meaning like mine does and you’re struggling to figure out where your passions lie, this is kind of a panic moment.
The first time I read the first of many passages that preached the same thing, I had a nearly physical reaction to it. That was a week ago and nearly every single day I have read or heard something so eerily similar that it’s like it’s chasing me,
telling yelling at me HEY ASHLEY, YOU’RE THIRTY. What are you doing with your life?
If you were to ask me if this was what I wanted my life to be like, I would say no. Do I know exactly what I want to be doing? No, I don’t and I’m struggling between chasing a career or striking off on my own. And there’s always the option of staying with what’s comfortable. If I want to stay with the comfortable I know that looking backwards at the age of 80 there’s a good chance I’d be disappointed.
I want more. I know there’s something I am supposed to be doing, something more. I’m not fulfilling all my potential, I’m not living my life to even half way full and I want, no I need to change that. I’ve already started working on my own self-care and self-love through Stratejoy and it’s been immensely rewarding. I’m taking time out for me, I’m doing things I like to do and I’m losing my fear of doing things by myself. It’s making me face things I don’t really want to face and still haven’t, if we’re being honest, but it’s progression in the right direction. I’m hoping that in all this I will figure out what I want to do with my life but I’m unfortunately at a loss as to what path I want to take. So I focus inward, on taking care of me in the hopes that my now-cared-for-self will nicely give up what I’m supposed to be doing with my life that it seems to be holding hostage.
I’ve been focusing mainly on my soul and my spirit, but I also need to start taking care of the body that all that resides in. It’s a large hurdle, one that is scary to take on. I like food, rich, good tasting food. The cooking that I tackle isn’t always so bad but then I tack on a love for baking, craft beer and a strong hatred for working out, and wow have I been super unhealthy lately. I’ve wanted to do something about it for a while now but I haven’t, because again–it’s easier to stay with what’s comfortable than to change.
My friend Erika posted this on facebook this afternoon, as if to counter these thoughts and so I decided that I’m going to challenge myself and finally do something about my weight and health. I’m going to run the BolderBoulder again, I’m also going to run the Color Run, a 5k, in Denver. Tonight I started my training and ran 4 miles and followed that up with a bath to ease my sore muscles. It’s only day one but I’ve finally started.
I only have this one life–if I don’t do what I want to be doing now, I don’t get another chance. If I let life pass me by, it’s going to pass me by and I will always have those what ifs. If I don’t take care of myself, I’m not going to be able to do any of the things that I dream up.
I just wish I knew what it is that I’m meant to be doing, what I want to be doing. Let the soul searching begin.
Some articles to think about:
I have this thing with pillows. Sofa pillows.
I don’t own many accessories for my home; candle sticks, figurines, and other such tchotchkes make me twitchy but pillows? I am obsessed and am always on the constant search for the perfect pillows. For me, the room needs a good base–furniture with good lines but fairly neutral. The pillows, artwork and rugs are what give the room personality. The only place I don’t like pillows: on my bed. I don’t get it either, that’s the one place that needs the kind of softness that pillows can give but my bed has three pillows. Two are for sleeping on and one is a pillow that spans the width of the bed in a great green and brown Moroccan-style pattern.
It’s weird seeing old photos of my apartment and how much has changed with the design of it! Especially my bedroom.
In my living room I have very heavy furniture with straight lines, no fluff to them. The sofa has a tight back with no loose cushions, aside from the seats, and is taupe in color–neither gray nor brown and pairs nicely with a brown leather armless Barcelona chair. My coffee table is a massive block of acacia wood that ties everything together. I have a gorgeous cowhide rug that’s painted to look like a giraffe hide underneath my coffee table to give the room a little more edge. Everything has been in place for the past nearly two years but the pillows have been the bane of my existence.
I have a closet downstairs that has a few failed pillow attempts in them. At first I thought I wanted to go the route of embroidered pillows in bright colors with floral designs. I don’t know why, I have never liked floral designs. I mean, NEVER. Yet I saw those pillows and said why not? They lasted maybe about a month before I threw them in the closet, to be replaced by the pillows that stayed for about a year. Truth be told, I never fully loved them. I love bold patterns–quatrefoils, houndstooth, chevron, ikat, the greek key, and all in bold colors. The pillows I got were this great orange and teal ikat and while I liked them in the store, the colors were always a little off with my sofa. But I kept them because they served their purpose and were nice placeholders until I found the pillows I really loved.
Don’t ever use that as an excuse for good design. It’s either awesome or you return them. ARE YOU LISTENING, ASHLEY?
Last weekend I was faced with this massive financial decision after leaving the Subaru dealership and to deal with it, I went shopping. Makes sense, right? That’s when I found them: the perfect pillows. They break my two rules of design when using different patterns or color: I will pair two pillows of different colors if they have the same pattern or two patterns if in the same color. Instead, they are two different colors and two different patterns but oh they are fabulous together. One a tiffany blue, the other a coral, my two favorite colors. After nearly two years, my living room finally feels complete.
So, does anyone want any pillows? Because I could open a shop with how many I have just hanging around.
One of the recurring themes of my childhood, from what I can remember, was taking long walks in the woods with my father. They were expeditions; looking at different plants and wildlife, jumping off rocks and splashing in streams. No matter where we lived, we had these adventures, even if we had no woods to get lost in. When I was probably five or six, we lived in Newtown, Connecticut, a town now infamous for some devastating events that happened there not too long ago. But at the time it was a peaceful place and I didn’t know how bad the world could be. It was a magical time and most of it was spent wandering the woods with my dad and little brother behind our house.
I don’t remember my childhood. I’m not talking about not remembering details; like, I don’t remember ANYTHING. I will look at photos of events up until the age of probably 8 or 9 and it’s like looking at a stranger’s pictures. Yes, that’s definitely me in the picture, but I don’t remember being there. I do have small fragments of memories that I’m not 100%–not even 50%–sure aren’t total byproducts from the videos my parents took of us. We even have endless amount of footage of my father and us roaming the woods so I can’t even be sure I really have any true remembrance of that either. But I remember flashes. I remember my dad telling us there was poison ivy in this one patch of green that I’m pretty sure he just didn’t want us disturbing. I remember being happy. And I remember the cabins.
They were these abandoned cabins with collapsing roofs and ivy covered walls. With abandoned rocking chairs and moss all over the floor. I remember being enthralled with them, wondering who lived there, what their lives had been like and why they didn’t live there anymore. I believe this was the start of my fascination with the abandoned and I’m glad it’s one of the very few memories that my brain clung onto that wasn’t caused by the pain of my brother throwing a metal truck at my head or involving the many moves we made.
Have you ever noticed that buildings are seldom just abandoned empty? It’s almost like they were left mid-life. One day people were there, doing normal every day things and then, poof! They vanished, leaving their belongings behind and nature then took over. It’s almost like catching a glimpse of what would happen if we as humans just disappeared and someone came by 50 years later and saw what remnants of what we created.
When I was in Granada, Spain, I went on this walking tour through old Arabic baths and the medinas so similar to Morocco where I had just been traveling. At the end we wound up on this rooftop drinking beer and chatting with our hosts. There was talk of this abandoned monastery located a couple hours hike outside of town. I was intrigued but I was leaving the next day and didn’t have the time to think about it at that point so I put it out of my mind. It wasn’t until the next morning when some of the other guys who were on the walking tour with me and who happened to be staying at the same hostel as me, mentioned they were hiking out to this monastery and that I should come. I was practicing the “say yes to everything” lesson I was taught shortly after landing in Europe and so I set out on this adventure with them instead of leaving for Barcelona.
The hike out there alone was a blast; chatting with these young Canadians, an older Australian and an American my own age and proceeding to get lost in the gorgeous countryside with little more than a crudely drawn map. It was moments like these I had come on this trip for and I was relishing every minute of it. We finally came to this abandoned building and while the architect in me was screaming at me about how un-structurally sound the building was, the dork in me was having a field day. It was a jumbled mess, the floor littered with building debris, a randomly placed bathtub and graffiti all over the walls, and it was beautiful the way life went on all around this building and yet, it remained in some form.
I often look back at my trip and land on that adventure as one of the highlights of my trip. I still secretly try to stumble upon ghosts of buildings, ghosts of lives everywhere I go. Lately, I want to go to the abandoned island off the coast of Manhattan that I never knew existed until last week and now it’s like I have no other purpose in life but to get on this island. Who’s coming with me?
I’m just going to put it out there for all to see, judge me all you want, but…I am so beyond ready for spring. I know this makes me a bad Coloradan since I’m supposed to want winter to last forever and SNOW SNOW SNOW but I’m kind of over it. These past couple weeks have been typical Colorado weather: warm one day, snowing the next. I don’t mind the schizophrenic weather but I really want spring to hurry up and get here already. I’m sick of coming back from every hike either frostbitten or covered in mud.
Also? I hate de-snowing and de-icing my car. I’m way too short for that shit.
I was going to do a weekend recap but then I realized that I haven’t really updated you all on LIFE for the past…oh, six months and decided that it’s about freaking time.
Let’s see. I think I have to go all the way back to Election Day.
I watched the Election at my friend Morgan’s and it involved shots of tequila and a cake fight. Oh and Obama won. I spent Thanksgiving at my friend Chad’s with his family. I have never been open mouth kissed more times by a 2 year old. I started volunteering at the Humane Society with the dogs and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m not sure who gets more out of it: the dogs, or me. I went to two CU football games where they sucked worse than Michigan State ever did while I was there but at least the view was pretty and we had access to the bar.
I saw Monsters and Men in December and I sang and danced my heart out. Fancypants Ignite Boulder was also in December and Nicole and I totally rocked the cocktail dresses. Hosted a fancy dress party because my dresses were feeling neglected and played an epic game of Cards Against Humanity. Best game ever. Went to Michigan for Christmas and figured out that my family HATES having our picture taken. Actually that wasn’t a new realization, it just took my Great-Uncle telling us the dogs were better behaved during the photo shoot for it maybe to sink in. I saw Trombone Shorty for the fourth time in Denver practically front row and I might have died and gone to heaven. I ate a ton of cheese and meat on New Years Eve, so clearly I make good life choices. I then got really sick for two weeks and coughed for two months. I then continued to make some more poor love life decisions which finally propelled me to being actively single and taking a self-love course through Stratejoy.
Somewhere in all that I went to the Denver Symphony Orchestra for girls night to see a friend perform and got to dress all fancy. Three times in two months? I’ll take it. I watched the Super Bowl at a bar in Denver with a bartender who looked like Kaepernick and screamed more about the fact that my friend’s brother’s commercial won the Doritos challenge and got played during the superbowl than I did for either team scoring. I went to a very intense and exciting CU basketball game with my bestie and spent the evening in a hottub gazing at the stars and eating a pint of Phish Food.
I cut my hair off, got a new pair of glasses and started wearing red lipstick. I celebrated my third anniversary in Colorado. I met a blogger that I’ve followed for years, Erin. I hosted a WiiU party where we played really fun games and my friend Liz performed an epic rendition of Justin Bieber’s Baby, caught on video. For the record, I still haven’t actually heard *him* sing a song. I am very much okay with this fact. This party deserves it’s own post and I will definitely be sharing that with you soon. I’ve been drinking a lot of beer and I think I need to start working out again.
I’ve been hiking a lot (more than usual), took myself to see two movies by myself, taken a bath for the first time since I was a kid, light candles and play the Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera soundtracks probably too loud, and have really latched onto this self-care thing. I promise this won’t turn into a self-help blog but I can’t help myself sometimes. I’m planning two trips to New York and also am pondering going to TBEX in Ireland. Or at least planning an international trip in the fall. I’m also spending way too much money to fix my car and buy a brand new Subaru Crosstrek. This makes me miss my carless NYC days a lot.
I have two boxes of Girl Scouts cookies in my freezer in an attempt to not eat them. I’ve since discovered just how amazing frozen they are so I failed. Or maybe I won? Either way, go put your thin mints in the freezer, you’ll thank me in about an hour. I redecorated my living room, being all ironic hipster and putting a picture of a mouse head mounted on a wall, above my fireplace. His name is Maurice and he’s awesomely Norwegian. I also got pillows in two different colors and two different patterns, breaking my own design rule of using either the same color, different patterns, or same pattern, different colors. I’m rebelling and I like it.
And that my friends, is a wrap. (I think I covered everything. If not, you probably didn’t miss much.)
Car shopping is seriously exhausting.
Did you know that I’ve never really been car shopping? Since my car is proving to be more of a problem than it’s worth, I have decided that selling or trading it in for something new (or new to me) is probably my best option. Yesterday I took myself to the Subaru dealership for two hours and came home completely wiped out. Apparently I’ve been drinking the Boulder koolaid a little too much lately–everyone in Boulder owns a Subaru–but I figure there must be something to them that made everyone here love them, so I have focused in on them for my next car. I was a little nervous to go car shopping by myself; I had images of pushy, cheesy car salesmen in my head and well, I’m not good at poker faces. I was worried that I was going to accidentally buy a car before realizing what was happening.
I went mainly to check out the Forester and the Outback but within minutes eliminated the Outback (out of my price range) and immediately fell in love with their new Crosstrek. I’m talking seeing it across a crowded room, love at first sight love. It was smaller than I wanted but then again, maybe that’s a good thing. After all, it’s just me! I don’t take up that much room. I did give some attention to the Forester and even test drove it and got pricing on it since I have to give myself options.
The Forester is bigger than my Rav4 (it looks smaller but it felt bigger.) and has a bigger engine than the Crosstrek which I’m not sure if that matters or not to me. Bigger engine means more power, I guess. There’s a lot more cargo room, headroom and has 0% financing. It also has been around for many years and there are a lot of reviews to consider. Granted, my Rav4 is considered Consumer Reports top used SUV pick so there’s that…
The Crosstrek is brand new so I don’t know how it’ll fair over the course of many years. It’s small but still an SUV, has amazing gas mileage, handles really well, lots of room inside for all that I need and has more perks than the Forester for just about $1,000 more. I really could care less about the bells and whistles but for that price difference, it does add some appeal. The reviews so far of it online are great and I just felt more comfortable in that car.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I am horrible with decision making! I know which one I want to get but part of me feels like I shouldn’t be buying myself a brand new car. I should be getting a used car because that’s what people my age, with my budget, do. I am going to be tying myself into a five year car payment which is a huge commitment. I don’t make commitments like that! I should keep looking around and find something with less of a commitment but…I really like the Crosstrek!
Another part of me is saying, Ashley! Look at this amazing opportunity you’ve been provided! I could sell my car, sell all my belongings and take off for a huge travel adventure and really try to turn this blogging thing into my life. I’d have such a nice cushion to do that and it’s something I’ve always thought about doing in the back of my mind.
And then there’s the part of me that wants to settle down and make a home out of Colorado. Start saving to buy a house, do adult things like buy a new car and make car payments, get a dog, really focus in on my career. I thought I would have my Rav4 for ten more years but the universe always has other plans. I’m learning to accept that and right now am just thankful I have enough money in the bank to be able to fix my car, even if it was money that was funding a dream that has to be put on hold. I guess the Universe just has other plans for me.
See how exhausting car shopping is? There are so many things to take into account. It’s making my head spin!
Image from Subaru.com. Don’ t worry, I will be getting this in dark grey, not tangerine! Tangerine may be my new favorite color for clothing and home decor, but I draw the line somewhere. And that’s at cars.
I think you may remember how much I love Simone France’s face lotion. It’s probably the best thing ever and my skin is all the better for it. Seriously, people tell me all the time how great my skin is and I often laugh (because it’s so fickle) but this lotion makes me glow. Ever since I’ve been on the hunt for a body lotion that I loved as much.
My friend Morgan, a born and bred Boulderite, was the first to point out to me that most lotions contain alcohol. Alcohol dries us out so why is it in our lotions? So you can see why finding a lotion I liked was so hard. Every single effing lotion has alcohol in it. Damn you Boulder for making me question every single decision I ever make. I remember back when I was in NYC and I didn’t care what was in my lotion or if what I was eating was healthy and I never pondered buying a bike.
My face lotion by Simone France doesn’t have alcohol in it and look how great my face feels all day? I often wondered if they made body lotion but never thought to check (silly me). Then last fall (yes, I’m slow) they emailed me asking if I wanted to try out their body line. WHICH INCLUDED BODY LOTION.
Is the sky blue? (Or as Jennifer Lawrence, my new BFF and girl crush, said, do bears shit in the woods?)
Guys, it’s fantastic. The lotion does not have alcohol in it (obviously), smells like citrusy goodness (a cross between lemons and oranges), one of my favorite scents, and it makes my skin feel fabulous. They also sent me their Body Buff (and more of my favorite face lotion!) in the same scent and I quickly went through that one. My skin is seemingly always dry and the combination of both of those was awesome for loosening the dead skin and moisturizing it.
I really can’t love this brand enough, all their facial products that I’ve tried have done wonders for my skin and I was so pleased that their body line was just as great. I was also pleased to discover on their Facebook page that they’ve reduced their prices and now you can get their entire line (The Body Buff, Body Glow–the lotion, and Bath Salts) for $66. Totally worth it, if you ask me. Or you could just enter to win it.
First time buying? You also can get 20% off your order by entering FIRST at checkout.
Disclaimer: Simone France contacted me to test out and review their products on my blog. I was not paid in any way (aside from receiving the free products) and my opinions are completely my own. This stuff really is amazeballs and I really do love it as much as I say I do.
It always amuses me what my brain comes up with to entertain myself when I get snowed in. The snow started Saturday night and then continued all day on Sunday, leaving me a little stir crazy and having to cancel my Oscar party plans in Denver. Since my plans had been cancelled, I decided to take inspiration from this book I was reading, The Shoemaker’s Wife. It’s about these Italian immigrants who come to NYC and fall in love and they’ve probably talked about gnocchi every other page. While I love books that involve cooking and food, sometimes it inspires me to do things. Crazy things like, make gnocchi from scratch.
Now, some of you may know better than to tackle homemade pasta on the night of the oscars, much less at 5:30 but I decided that was exactly what I was going to do. All the while wearing a tiara and my pajamas. Tom told me that it would make the food taste better and based on the outcome, I’d say he was right. I’m going to have to wear my tiara in the kitchen all the time now. It’s a good thing I’m single.
Gnocchi was the very first meal I had when I landed in Italy five and a half years ago. I was in Sorrento, just north of the Amalfi coast, and my brother and I had spent the evening wandering the little alleys of the most adorable Italian town in search of this restaurant he had heard about. I wish I could tell you where it was but alas, that knowledge is lost in the meandering we did. I was way too transfixed by all the noises, the sights, the scents, the Italianness of everything. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. There was barely anyone at the restaurant when we found it but the food. THE FOOD! It was amazing. I ate probably a quarter of what was put in front of me (don’t worry, my brother ate the rest! It was not wasted! Don’t murder me with a pitchfork) but it stuck with me as probably one of the best meals I had the whole trip. Right alongside all that gelato. I’ve always been curious about pasta making and have thought about doing it and gnocchi seemed like the easiest thing to make. It was pretty simple but it took a lot of physical effort to produce and boy, do you produce.
Some notes before we dive into the recipe: I make enormous messes of myself and the kitchen when one cup of flour is involved (or even 1/4 cup…) and let’s just say there was about four cups of flour used. I don’t think I’ll ever be getting the flour out of my hair, clothes, nails, cookbook, countertop and linoleum floor. I really wouldn’t be surprised if it was in my tiara! So maybe, wear an apron or two. And definitely take your rings off. (Why do I always forget that?!)
You need to devote a big chunk of time to this endeavor and maybe you should have a sous chef because making this by myself was manageable but I definitely ran into time management problems. You have to keep such a close eye on the gnocchi once it goes into the boiling pot of water that to turn away and start working on the sauce might be disastrous. (Or you know, get caught up in the Oscars feed on Twitter. Not that that happened to me or anything.) It also makes a LOT of food so I’m hoping I can freeze it or bribe people to do what I want by giving them lots of potato-ey goodness.
I paired the gnocchi with a sauce that was talked about in the book, a sage-and-butter sauce that sounded intriguing. I was worried about it being bland but not only is it the easiest (and probably least healthy) sauce I’ve ever made, but the sage is amazing and the gnocchi itself is very flavorful. If you’ve never had gnocchi before but want to try this, I recommend small portions. Very small. It’s extremely filling but way too delicious not to try. You can also have it in a simple tomato sauce, like the one I had in Italy. Don’t forget the cheese. Never forget the cheese.
Gnocchi di Patate
Adapted from Lidia’s Favorite Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
- 5-6 Large Idaho or russet potatoes
- 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
- Dash of pepper
- 2 eggs, beaten
- About 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- Grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
Boil the potatoes in their skins for about 40 minutes or until they are easily pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and then set them aside to cool completely. Once cool, grate them into a mound on a well-floured surface (my counter worked was the only space big enough!) and form a well in the middle. Stir the teaspoon of salt and the dash of pepper in with the beaten eggs and pour the mixture into the well.
This part took me a while so I didn’t start the water until the dough was nearly ready but she says at this point to bring water in a large pot to a boil with 2 tbsp of salt. Work the potatoes and eggs together with both hands (ringless, please), and gradually add the 3 cups of flour. This, along with the grating of the potatoes, equals a nice upper body workout.
Important: incorporation of the ingredients should take no longer than 10 minutes–the longer you work it, the more flour it will require and the heavier it will become.
Dust the dough, your hands and the work surface with even more flour. She says lightly, I say be generous. That stuff is sticky. Make the ball of dough into kind of a log if you can and then cut into 6 equal parts. (Dust the dough with flour until no longer sticky) Using both hands, roll each of the 6 pieces of dough into a 1/2 inch thick rope. I wound up rolling it out slightly, cutting it in half and then rolled it out. Made it a little more manageable for those who don’t have as much counter space, like me! Cut the rope in 1/2″ intervals. Indent each dumpling with a fork or your thumb (it will help the sauce stick to the gnocchi).
Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, stirring gently and continuously with a wood spoon and cook for about 2-3 minutes until they float up to the surface. I did this in segments, each half of a rope went in and then I would start on the next. Even cooking and all. Remove the gnocchi from the water with a slotted spoon or skimmer, and put in whatever container you choose and cover with the sauce of your choice.
My recommendation would be the sage and butter sauce. Melt 4 tbsp of butter in a pan until golden brown, add 8 sage leaves and remove from pan. It will sizzle and pop for a little bit and then after about thirty seconds I guess, add in the juice of half of a lemon. Let sit for a minute and then pour over the gnocchi. Oh, and as I said, don’t forget the cheese!
Back in November and December, and even half way through January, I was depressed. Not just the mild winter blues I usually get, but the full on, haven’t been this depressed in more than a decade blues. I didn’t see a way out of my misery and every night as I cried myself to sleep and every morning came without any lightening of my mood, I wondered when I would feel normal again. I hated being that sad.
It seemed that nothing could make me happy, not even things that had once been tried and true. If you had talked to me it would have been all doom and gloom; my blog was non-existent during this period. I couldn’t bring myself to write about what was going on in my head, in fact I couldn’t find the words to properly convey just what was going on. I’d sit down to write and…nothing. I once turned to my blog to pour out my feelings but sometimes, the feelings are just too intense to put down in words. Maybe it’s better that way.
I was lost, for lack of a better term. I could say I don’t know what brought it on, but I do. It’s well-documented in my journal around mid-August. Someone came back into my life and was trying hard to be a part of it again. I wrote about how I felt it would set me back, that I was afraid I would only get hurt. I know how that story ends and it was by putting me dead last and putting my happiness in his hands when he had no intentions of ever making me happy (instead placing himself and his needs first), that I ended up head first into a crippling depression. Once he was out of my life I felt a lift, but it wasn’t enough. I still wasn’t putting myself first, instead walking right into another bad situation and putting my needs and wants on the back burner.
Once that ended, I realized I needed to do what made me happy. Not anyone else. In fact, it was sitting on my friend Chad’s sofa the night things finally ended with the last guy that my epiphany happened. I had just started Stratejoy’s Fierce Love course and had kind of put it to the side that first week, but I had taken that first step. Instead of doing the self love things that I had brainstormed about, I was drinking beer, watching crap television (Sons of Guns, in case you were wondering). Chad was spouting off lines he’d heard the owner of this gun shop say and one stuck out:
“You’ll never be able to make apple pie out of a bag of oranges.”
I keep jumping from one guy to the next, throwing myself into things expecting different results but always getting more of the same. I hate being alone, I’ve talked about it before, and everyone kept telling me Be alone for a while! You have to love yourself first before anyone else can love you. I had reached an all time low in self esteem and self-confidence and well, I’m sick of it. I am ready to put myself first and make a life I love and want to be living, not hoping the right guy will come along and make my life fun again. I was living my life based on other people’s lives. That’s not living. That’s not happiness.
So I’ve been on the search to find my happiness, figuring out what makes me happy and doing it. Places I’ve found my happiness?
- Taking hikes by myself in the middle of the woods. I can be quite lazy and it tends to be easier to just sit at home or go shopping than go to the trailhead and just go for a walk. But the few hours I spend in the sun in the most gorgeous of scenery that I am extremely blessed to be living amongst. It’s nice to be in the silence of the woods with only my thoughts. Plus that vitamin D is pretty sweet.
- Reading at night with classical music. I feel like such an old lady admitting this but it was purely by accident that I discovered how much I loved lying on my sofa, reading a book with classical music playing on Spotify.
- Seeing movies by myself. I wrote about my first date I took myself on last weekend and this weekend, I repeated it by going to see Silver Linings Playbook (which was fantastic, by the way). It is something that I’ve been so nervous to ever do by myself but now I don’t know why I waited so long! I love it.
- Playing with the shelter dogs. When I started volunteering at the humane society here in November, it was the one shining light during my depression. I really don’t know who gets more out of my walking them: the dogs or me. Puppy cuddles are the best.
- No coffee. But I love coffee! Especially Trader Joe’s Gingerbread coffee. I drink it every day and I have enjoyed it for the past two years. You know what else I’ve also enjoyed for the past two years? Horrible, crippling anxiety. Anxiety I didn’t have until two years ago. Granted, there were other factors involved in the heightening of my anxiety but it’s hard to deny the connection there. Last week I gave up coffee, replacing it with tea and…no more anxiety. Not even when I found out it was going to cost $5k to fix my car. I was stressed sure, but the anxiety didn’t squeeze my heart up tight and cause me to spiral out of control. It was a nice discovery and while I miss coffee, I really don’t miss my anxiety.
I’m going to continue to hunt down the things that make me happy and I’m going to stay single until a guy comes along who complements my life, not is my life. Someone who is worthy to be part of my life. My depression has finally lifted and I spend my days happy and content, going to bed in a good mood and waking up lighter than air. I have made a promise to myself to put me first for a while and I intend to keep it.
OK, Universe. I get it, I’ve been too happy lately, too at peace. And not to mention way too good at budgetting and saving my money. You probably saw my stock pile of savings, my first savings in…my life, and decided it just needed to be spent on something I didn’t want, right?
So I have this 2006 Toyota Rav4. I have loved this car (notice the past tense) and it’s been perfect for Boulder. It’s a small SUV, the perfect size for me and it has treated me really well.
Until last year.
You could say our relationship turned sour, the honeymoon period was well over and I was seeing it’s true colors. Maybe it was angry with me because I didn’t name it but I never name my appliances/tech gadgets/cars so it can’t really get that angry with me. I haven’t put that many miles on it, it only has 65k which is pretty damn good for a just-turned-seven car. I’m not sure what turned my car against me, but it started to cause problems. First, the air conditioning broke. I figured I could live without that for a while. Then, the brakes needed to be replaced. Fine, I understand that. It was five years old, these things happen. Then it got recalled for the gas pedal. Then, after sitting in 103 degree heat, in traffic, in Denver, I threw up my white flag of surrender and decided to get my air conditioning fixed.
That was when I discovered that my car had been in an accident prior to my getting it and without knowing it, a piece of my bumper was stuck inside the compressor. So what was supposed to be a $150 fix, turned into a $700 fix and the compressor was replaced. The air filtration system needs cleaning, they told me last time and oh, you have a small leak in your transmission. No big deal, they said. Just have it looked at in a few months, they said. No big fucking deal.
I’m sure Suki remembers a time last summer when we were driving back from TBEX in Keystone and my car would not shift gears, staying at 45 mph on a 75 mph road. I was
kind of freaking out. As the months have progressed, I have started to feel the car change. It wasn’t handling as smoothly, it had hiccups and it was clear something was up.
In typical Ashley fashion, I procrastinated having it looked at because if I don’t know what’s wrong with it, I won’t have to worry about it. Every time I felt something off with the car the little voices in my head would start singing to the tune of transmission, transmission, transmission. But it wasn’t a big deal right? Toyota said it wasn’t a big deal. I was picturing a small patching up of the leak job that would cost me $1,000, maybe $1,500.
So, after hearing the internal transmission song nearly daily, finally I got up the nerve to call a local shop in town, a great little place called Independent Motors that was recommended highly to me by a friend. They told me to stop by on my lunch break and they would take it on a test spin to see if they can sense anything wrong with it. My car must have known it was going to see a doctor because, of course, it wasn’t acting up! It was riding along beautifully.
I was feeling still a little nervous that something could be wrong, but I was trying to be optimistic. After all, he said it sounded just fine and drove fine too! But then he got under the hood of my car (which, by the way, I just learned how to pop myself…this year. And it may have involved an awkward phone call to my father to ask him just how the hell I get my car’s hood open. Whatever, stop judging me.) and looked at the transmission fluid. There was debris in my transmission.
DEBRIS. Even I know that’s not good. My transmission was breaking down. Oh. Fucking. Joy.
Not a big deal, huh, Toyota?
So these past couple days have been a little stressful for me and while I’m keeping my head up and trying to look at the positives (hey, once I get it fixed, I can sell it and buy a new car! New attitudes for the win!), it’s fucking hard. I got the quote from the shop today and am bringing it into Toyota on Monday to have them give me a price while they fix everything else that’s wrong with it (another recall, joy), and honestly, I want to cry. I have been saving and saving and saving for big, epic plans this coming may and every single penny of that, if not more, will go into getting my transmission replaced. On a car that has only 65k miles on it.
My car is killing my dreams.
Oh, yes, I know that’s dramatic but the big plans that I had for May have now been taken off the table quite rudely by the car sitting in my parking lot whose color no one can quite figure out whether it’s green or blue. This was the car that I wanted to have for a very long time since it’s great for where I live, it’s paid off in full and it’s a Toyota. It’s supposed to be a good car!
So now I sit with a beer in my hand and wrestle with the fact that my life plans aren’t going to go the exact way I planned them to this year, that my savings account is about to be nonexistent once again, and that when all is said and done, I will be selling my car and getting a new one. I’m trying not to see this as a setback but it’s hard not to look at it this way.
I don’t pray, but I’m really hoping for a miracle on Monday and Toyota pulls through with this and cuts me a deal. If they do, maybe I’ll buy another one of their cars but at this rate, I’ve got a sour taste in my mouth, no matter their reputation. So please send out as many good thoughts as you can that I don’t have to shell out $5,000+ to have the transmission replaced.
Also, if you live in Boulder, definitely check out Independent Motors. They haven’t even done anything to my car and I will recommend them to anyone. Super helpful, went out of their way to help me diagnos my car for free and the fact that they gave me a price on my car that nearly gave me a heart attack but still encouraged me to try to get a better deal with Toyota, has won them a customer in the future. And no they didn’t tell me to write this. I just am a sucker for good customer service which they have in spades.
Tonight I took myself on my very first date. I went to the movies all on my own.
It’s about damn time, you’re probably saying to me. After all, I am 30, nearly 31. Who hasn’t gone to the movies by thelmself? Well, this girl, that’s who.
Sure, I’ve gone to bars by myself and have eaten dinners solo in restaurants. The common theme of all of them was that I was traveling. It’s easy to go out of your comfort zone when you’re far away from home. If anyone asks, you have an easy excuse: you’re from out of town and don’t know anyone. Not so easy when you’re in your home town. I’m one of those people who care way too much what other people think of me so my walking into the theater right down the street from where I live all by myself and seeing The Hobbit was a big step. I’d even say huge. I have never been to dinner, drinks or to see a movie by myself where I live.
When I walked into the movie theater I was a tad nervous. I made sure to not give myself too much time to back out. Luckily there wasn’t a line and I was able to march right up to the cashier, buy my solo ticket and proceed to sit in the exact seat I wanted to sit in: towards the top in the middle. And I sat there through the previews (which were almost as long as the movie) and didn’t murder the child sitting two seats away who kept trying to get very last drop out of their soda. I laughed at the movie and I was kind of bored of the movie, too. I felt all these things by myself and didn’t have anyone to share them with but that’s okay because I experienced it and that’s what’s most important right? When the movie was over and I walked out the exit all by my little self, I did a little inner victory dance for taking this first big step.
I’m sick of holding my own self back from happiness and joy and doing what I want to do. And if that means going to a movie that I want to see by myself, or go try a specialty chocolate mint stout at a local brewery, or…whatever it is that I want to do–I need to just do it. I will regret more the things I did not do than the things I did do and now that I’ve gone and seen a movie by myself, I feel so…liberated.
I kind of feel like superwoman. Or Tarzan? Like I want to beat on my chest: I am woman, hear me roar.
All because of a solo movie-going expedition. It’s the little things.
This three day weekend has been extremely healing. Spending time with the shelter dogs, a college basketball game with a friend, hot tubbing under the stars, brunch with friends at my favorite spot in town, a long hike in the woods (as well as one up by the reservoir), and today a me date at the movies. I need to do this more often, it’s so nice to…take care of myself. To really take the time and do things that I like, things that I know will make me happy. It’s hard to do, right? I know what will make me happy but sometimes I can’t even pry myself off the sofa to do it. A lot of weekends go by where I don’t do much of anything and I kick myself come Sunday night. I also need to stop kicking myself if I do just sit around and do nothing. I just need to start recognizing when sitting around and doing nothing is exactly what I need in the moment, or if forcing myself out of my apartment to take a hike, or play with the dogs, or go see a movie is what I need.
It’s all part of the growing process, right?
Right now I’m just enjoying the contentment of a successful weekend of self-care, and self-love. I’m also realizing that I am far too emotionally attached to the outcome of The Bachelor, but that’s not really relevant to this post and I’m currently just trying to distract you all from all the sappy personal stuff I wrote about above. Is it working? Maybe we should talk about how the creator of Downton Abbey hates us and how emotionally traumatizing this season has been and I don’t think I can ever rewatch season three because of how heartbreaking it was. And also? WHY is their season so short?
OK so in all seriousness, what do you do to take care of yourself? Where do you find your happy? (we can also discuss The Bachelor or Downton or whatever other silly things you want, if that’s easier.)