DESIGN YOUR LIFE: ashley

Good morning! Today’s DYL is brought to you by none other than Ashley, the new MML Dream Reporter! After last Saturday’s resounding support for Ashley and her dreams, I am sure her intentions will be a huge hit as well. And I cannot thank Ashley enough for her quick turnaround on this piece (thank you again, lady!).

After reading her intentions, I think I might print my own “no complaining” paper for my wall. It sounds like a huge success. Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Ashley

When Jess asked me to to a DYL interview I paused for a moment and thought “but I am in the middle of making huge changes in my life…I haven’t accomplished anything great yet…I don’t know what intentions I am successfully living at this point.” The fear monster took over for a few minutes then my rational mind took back control and I decided to make a list of what I absolutely know to be true in my life…and I could barely stop! I made a huge list! But to keep this simple I picked the four that I believe are the most significant in my life. And again, this is what I have learned through MY life and MY experiences….it doesn’t make it right for everyone.

No whining, complaining or gossiping


A few months ago I took a course called “Uplevel My Life” by Christine Kane (LOVE her!!). The class was all about creating your own reality with intention and creativity. The very first assignment in the 7 week class was to sign a “Complaint-Free Contract.” At first I thought…ok this is silly, I feel like I am in 2nd grade Sunday School. But I did it anyway – after all, to keep doing the same things day after day and expect different results is insanity…and I wanted different result really bad!  So I did it, I even got my fiance’ to sign it as well. I didn’t realize the impact not complaining would have on my life. It was huge! I realized just how much time and energy was going in my life to whining and complaining and focusing on all the negative stuff. I realized that when you stop doing those things you open up the space to allow for more positive stuff…abundance, happiness, kindness, even empathy. And I also realized that culminating negative energy is just plain exhausting. Now, I am no saint – there are still times when I bitch out the driver in front of me – but my life is much more peaceful than it ever was before. It may seem like an “airy-fairy” concept but for me it has been extremely practical. My life runs so much smoother when there is no complaining involved. It leaves space for the goodness to flow.

get very very very clear

I am still in the beginning stages of living a life with intention. I am just starting to create the life I dream of living. Do you want to know the first step I took to help me get a jump start into action? I got very, very, very clear. I took some time so sit and imagine and then document exactly what I wanted to BE, to DO and to HAVE in my life. I imagined what it would feel like to wake up to see that something I had created had sold while I was sleeping. I imagined what it would smell like to sit in a room with a group of women who are just as passionate about living life intentionally and with compassion as I am. I imagined what it would taste like to have an organic lunch in a beautiful diner with a challenging mentor. I imagined what it would feel like to fit into a pair of jeans that didn’t require me to secretly keep the top button undone all day. I imagined what my life would look like to wake up each morning excited about the day and to be at peace with my current situation.

I avoided getting clear for years. It seemed much more fun to start a new life venture with a huge action item that would produce immediate results. I would have much rather done that than take a step back and actually get completely clear. But for me, along with clarity comes the decision to take responsibility for my life, it means that I am able to make decisions and choices from my purest place – my heart, and it also contributes to a huge feeling of empowerment in every circumstance I face.

Getting clear started the ball rolling in the direction of my dreams. It was almost as if getting clear magically told the universe to start moving on my behalf. My clarity became the antidote to my fear monsters. I honesty feel like it has made magic happen.

create your own rules

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can thank my mom for this one. She taught me at a very early age that I can be whoever I want to be and to never let anyone tell me I can’t. And probably because of that (and possible a bit of my personality) I have never ever followed the rules…and gotten into a good bit of trouble! One thing that devastates me is to witness a person live their life without believing they have options. Most of these people just look around and do what everyone else is doing. They don’t realize that there are unlimited possibilities in any given situation, even when it feels like there aren’t, and that they can do or be anything that they want to do or be.  For many years I was involved in a spiritual organization that suffocated my uniqueness and individuality. They told me that to be great is to be like so-and-so and to be worthy and holy and pure is to think like so-and-so. Certain people were put on a pedestal and all the others who didn’t make it were left to wonder what the hell was wrong with them. Eventually I reached a point within my own heart where I realized what was happening and I moved away from that way of thinking. I was allowing someone else to tell me what was right and wrong for my life and to create the rules that I was living by. Largely because of that situation I now see that every single person is different and that is good! If everyone was the same this world would suck pretty bad.

Along these same lines I am currently engaged to the sweetest boy alive (I honestly think so!). We are planning to get married this year (or maybe next -who knows, there are no rules, right?) but as I have been planning my wedding I have been thinking a lot about how important it is to create your own rules. The rules tell me that I need to have bridesmaids and a cake and a diamond ring and pocketfold invitations and to walk down the isle while holding flowers with my man waiting on me to arrive at the other end. When I really think about doing those things, and I mean really feeling what it would feel like to be that person, it just doesn’t feel right to me. Having bridesmaids would feel really odd to me, putting an invitation in an envelope within another envelope and then a pocketfold kind of seems even more bizarre….and walking down an isle with my love waiting on me would feel even weirder….aren’t we in this together? Isn’t this a day for us share our connection and love with the world and commit to love each other forever? It’s not that I think those things are bad at all… I love weddings and, as a designer, I do a ton of invitation designs that include all of those “traditional” elements. But I can’t help to think to myself, what would my life look like if I didn’t realize I could create my own rules? Would I really be happy? Would I ever believe that I am ok exactly as I am? What I see unlimited possibilities? I doubt it.

So thanks mom!

never ever ever judge

It is SO easy to judge. I caught a glimpse of The Bachelor a couple of weeks ago and I almost threw up in my mouth. I sat there for a few minutes talking to myself about how insanely insecure and stupid these women seemed to do something that appeared to me to be so degrading. But here’s the thing. I don’t know their story. I have no idea what their lives have been like, therefore I have no idea what their thought processes are and why they make the decision they make. Ive learned that when I approach people who live their lives differently than I live mine to always remain open to their story. I honestly have no idea what they have been through and more than likely they are doing the best they can.

I have my own story. It is because of the bizarre elements of my story that I have learned to be open to the fact that although people are influenced by their stories, they are NOT their past. The experiences of my life have had a huge influence on the things I do, say and believe and I feel that the same is true for everyone else I encounter. I really can tell a difference when I encounter a person who is experiencing me for exactly who I am and not judging or critiquing my every word or move. That’s the kind of person I want to be to others. Being open and willing to let go of labels and stories has allowed me to connect with people from all walks of life and in all types of circumstances. Being open to the goodness of humanity rather than getting caught up in judgments creates so much more room for connection and collaboration.

I kind of feel like for me judgment always comes back to insecurity. Its a comfortable way to size up my life and make sure that I come out on top. It also ensures that I stay completely stuck in my own yuckiness.

When I remember this my world is so much more peaceful and my heart has more space for love and compassion. When I see someone who is smoking around a child, or who is overweight to a scary point the first place that I go in mind now is not “how can they do that – they are so stupid and lazy”…Instead I have learned to go to a place of compassion (though it is an ongoing process). For me, its a much happier space to live in.

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  1. Dayka

    Love these tips & tools you shared about your life. I agree that it’s very important to get clear about what it is you want out for yourself, otherwise it’s easy to take whatever comes your way and mistake it for what you really want. I love what you said about your wedding, too–I too want something that speaks to me and not the normal pomp and circumstance. Creating your own rules is definitely a way to honor what you believe to be true about yourself. Excellent interview!

  2. Laurel

    My favorite part was when you realized that getting clear about what you want in life “magically told the universe to start moving on [your] behalf.”

    I really connected with that statement because that’s exactly what happened to me in 2008 when I enrolled in school to become a holistic health counselor. Suddenly everything started falling in to place. It happened again when I realized that I needed to move to NY in Summer 2009. Everything began to shift to make it easier for me to move(for example, my boss told me I could telecommute and keep my Florida job while working from NY). The universe started to work for me, and I believe it’s because I got clear about what I wanted and started moving towards that path.

    Inspring words Ashley! Can’t wait to hear more.
    Laurel

  3. Haley

    Ashley! Thank you. I’m so excited to read the rest of your dream reporting. The “do be have” exercise looks like it will be the most guiding and meaningful thing I’ve done in a long time. I love that you’re just setting out on your path of intentionality and I look forward to reading all of your dream reporting.

  4. Ashley – You sound like the type of person that makes an awesome friend. I have a rule not to judge other people’s relationships, because I see my friends doing that a lot. And we have no idea what goes on when two people are alone together. I’d like to challenge myself now to extend that to everyone I meet. Live and let live!

  5. Great post! I am in the place in my life where I am getting more and more clear, but this post reminds me how clear that I really need to get, and the key is to not be tied to the outcome, be open to that, in action to that or something better! Oh and I LOVE the picture of what I assume is your office..
    Inspiring thanks!

  6. This was great – it really opened my eyes. Sometimes I’m afraid to do my own thing and ignore what society tells me I should be doing – but when I let go, I usually feel so much better. I love being a unique individual, so I hope to not let my fears get the best of me anymore.

  7. Jadyn

    Ashley, I’m doing Uplevel Your Life right now, and loving it! I immediately connected with your first post and it’s funny to see that you went through the UYL program as well. It brings up so much and definitely inspires me to dream bigger than I have for a while and get clearer on exactly what it is I want in life. It’s so easy to be vague and I guess if you dreams are vague, your results will be vague too. Now, I’m more committed than ever to take steps that are in line with my intentions even if I’m still finding out what those are. It is exciting to follow your journey and I look forward to future posts!

  8. I love Ashley’s piece. She’s inspired me to spend more time visualizing exactly what the life I really want looks like.

    I want to get very clear on that. It always seems right around the corner to me. Or, more specifically, when I think about it, I get that feeling you have when you just can’t remember the name of that book you loved? And it’s right on the very tip of your brain? That.

    I want very much to get past that and get clear.

  9. Sharee

    See Ashley, you DO inspire people all of the time. Love this post! As always:) Going to make Nate read it later actually. Poor thing needs a little inspiration during tax season.

  10. wonderful post. I’m too in the beginning of my journey, and it’s scary to admit what I want to do, to have, to be because when I’ve said (written) it out loud, it gives place for failure which is my biggest obstacle in life.
    I’ve been told “you can’t win without failing sometime” and maybe that’s correct…it’s still scary as hell.

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