All posts by ashley

About ashley

Hi! I'm Ashley and I'm a work in progress...this is my blog (also a work in progress) that has become a place where I can pull out all of the pent up thoughts/feelings/experiences in my head and put them on "paper" and in the process finally learn who was buried underneath them all.

Now

Most people that know me and especially those that have read my blog before know that I’ve been on a “journey” over the past 7 or so years. A journey of “finding” myself, soul-searching, and deep thought.  I’ve had life experiences that have caused me to ask many questions, but the recurring question that kept coming up was “Why?” Why did I have to experience those things? Why am I here? Why do I keep feeling this way? Why can’t I be like everyone else (assuming everyone else was normal and happy…ha)? I never really felt whole. Like something was always missing but I could never put my finger on what it was.

Over the past decade I’ve been in and out of counseling/therapy and have dealt with anxiety/PTSD, depression, anger, self-esteem issues, and some other fun stuff.  They listened to me talk for countless hours over the years and I always wondered how that was going to help me. That’s really all I did; I just talked about anything that was bothering me. It did help me to learn why I was feeling the way I felt and what triggered me, but not really how to change anything going forward.

In December of 2017 I had my 3rd surgery on my right hip; a total hip replacement. Leading up to that were 2+ years of dealing with hip pain and two other unsuccessful surgeries on it. That was really starting to wear on me; physically and emotionally. I told myself that with this new hip I was going to have to lose weight and really stay motivated with that goal. At the time of surgery I had gotten up to 213 pounds.  Not too far from my highest weight several years ago.  I have always gone up and down in my weight since having kids and it’s always been a struggle for me. Having a hip replacement really made me want to get to a healthy weight…not only for my health but for the simple fact of not wanting to put more stress on that new joint than necessary. I don’t want to be having a revision any time soon!

I think that decision to finally stay motivated about losing weight really helped me. As soon as I was done with physical therapy for my hip, I joined a gym and have been doing cardio and weight-lifting ever since.  I’m down 38 pounds since 12/1/17 and this has been the longest amount of time that I’ve gone while sticking to some kind of weight-loss plan.  For the most part I’ve learned how to tell myself that I don’t need that second helping of food, or I don’t need that dessert, or I don’t need that snack because I’m not really hungry. Of course I still give in to some cravings sometimes but for the most part I’ve done pretty well. It’s all in your mind. I have no choice but to stay on track this time.

Now that I’m finally back to feeling like a somewhat-normal person with no hip problems and also starting to feel good about my “outer” self, I can only guess that it sparked something in me to really start trying to work on the “inner” me. I started following a fitness/spiritual coach and every video and every post that she posted was eerily something I had just been thinking about. Other friends would post things that were all connected and something that I needed to hear.  For once in my life I had the feeling like something really good was going to happen. I’ve never felt that way before. In the past it has always been a feeling of dread that something bad was going to happen.

It was especially odd to me that I was feeling this positive with an anniversary date coming up. Last Saturday was the 7th anniversary of the death of one of my husband’s friends, TJ, that was killed in action in Afghanistan during combat operations in an Osprey helicopter.  TJ’s widow, Mary, had posted a blog post the day before and in it she had mentioned on July 7th that people should be doing what TJ would have been doing had he been able to be with his family…do something nice for someone, be with your wife and kids, or go to the beach because that was his favorite place to be.  While reading her post on July 6th, I thought that was awesome because we were going to be sitting on the beach the next day.  The next day comes and I take a picture of Michael and I on the beach and debate about sending it to Mary to tell her we were thinking about her. After debating in my mind for about 10 minutes, I just go to Facebook and leave a comment saying we were at the beach and were thinking about them.  I put my phone down and not even a minute later, I hear the loud, deep thumping sounds that only a military helicopter makes.  I look up and see this helicopter, flying really low right above us (maybe 4 stories high), right along the coast.  It gave me goosebumps, choked me up, and I just knew it was TJ.  I didn’t even know him but my journey has so much tied to that day. It was just an awesome sign.

The next morning I read someone’s post in a workout group that I’m in and they quoted a line from a book. The book is called “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I love a good quote, but I’m normally not the kind of person who is going to go buy the book that it is quoted from. This time was different. We were driving home from the beach, so I searched on iBooks, bought it, and downloaded it to my phone.

All I can say is wow. Just wow.

I have never in my life felt so enlightened and uplifted while reading a book. This is the first book I’ve ever taken notes on (or at least since college when I had to take notes – lol). It had so many powerful messages that I had just had to write them down; I wanted to be able to refer back to it.  That day, last Sunday, was truly a turning point in my life where something just clicked in me.  It sounds a little dramatic, especially to me, but it was really a huge A-Ha! moment for me! All the years of therapy finally made sense during that drive home last weekend. It was like I took sunglasses off for the first time in my life. I see everything with a different perspective now.

The main point of the book is to be present now. Most people, including myself, have lived with letting their past control their future.  I used to think that my past defined “me”. After reading the book, I realized that time is an illusion. There is only a now. Things in the past happened in a previous “now”, but they are gone. The past really doesn’t matter now, but since I attached my identity to those experiences, I continued to relive them and thought they made me who I am today. Now that I know that’s not “me”, the importance of them has lessened drastically. And that’s such a huge weight off my shoulders.  Worrying about the future and how pointless it is was another big topic in the book.  If we just worry about now, we don’t need to worry about the future. Most people, myself included, waste so much time worrying and waiting for the future, when that worry probably won’t even happen and that thing we’re waiting on will never come. A big part of the book is to accept what is, which is what is happening now. Negativity, complaining, drama, and living in the past are all ways of not accepting what is.

So, it’s become my goal now to put all this advice to use in my life and see what happens. Since I finished reading the book, I have had so many questions. I will think something and then realize, “Hey! I shouldn’t be thinking that!” or  “I shouldn’t worry about that!” It’s like there are two voices in my head now, “me” and my “mind”.  I have to ask myself, “is this thought/worry/complaint helping me do anything at this moment?”. Usually the answer is “no”, and then my mind quiets down.

I’m not going to lie; this process has definitely been tough this week. The first day I started reading the book I was on such a high after realizing all of this that I thought, “I feel so great; this is going to be so easy!” And then I had all kinds of questions and no one that I thought I could talk with to answer them. I started analyzing any thought that I had and wondered if I was responding to it the right way.  I’ve had so much anxiety this week and I can only guess that it’s because the mind doesn’t like change. It doesn’t like accepting what is. Now that I’m trying to do that, it’s trying to force me back where it was comfortable…not happy, but comfortable.  My mind isn’t going to win this time, though.

So, if any of you are the least bit interested in this book, I would highly recommend it.  This line was towards the beginning of the book:

“I trust that this book will find its way to those who are ready for such radical inner transformation and so act as a catalyst for it. I also hope that it will reach many others who will find its content worthy of consideration, although they may not be ready to fully live or practice it.”

This book found me by me reading someone’s post about a quote. Maybe it will find you by you reading this post. ❤ ❤ ❤

powerOfNow

 

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