Thursday, September 10, 2015

I Am Not Me

People keep asking me why I moved to Maui.
Is it because of your job?
Do you have something else lined up?
Did you meet someone new?

No, no, & definitely no.

Instead of stumbling over my words every time, trying to summarize all the reasons why, I thought it’s time I get back on my blog and share some thoughts.


A series of events in my life have led me to where I am today.
I really struggled through college finding my place in this world.
Making friends, choosing degrees, switching schools, moving from city to city.
College was 4 years of constantly trying to discover myself and failing at each attempt.

I’ve tried to put myself in so many different shoes.
The business student, the fashion guru, the psych counselor, & the independent woman.
Each identity I placed myself in left me feeling empty & unsatisfying.

Even with relationships, I’ve failed miserably.
I just can’t figure it out.

At the end of May, another event in my life was unsuccessful & left me feeling unfulfilled.

I honestly believe I put my all in.
I was bound and determined to be the best at everything. The best employee, the best homemaker, the best Christian, the best girlfriend and the best physically I could possibly be.

I failed.
I could not find a way to balance in my life.
It felt like everything I did was sucking the life out of me.

My job was draining.
I was stressed and tired constantly.
As much as I searched, I could not find it in me to be passionate about my career.
I had no social life; I was traveling alone, working alone, and living alone.
I wasn’t able to get linked into church with constantly being gone.
Yet again, I couldn’t find a way to make a relationship work.

I finally woke up one morning and said,

"This can't be it"

This can’t be the life I worked so hard to live.
Is this really why I did sixteen years of school including three summers in college?
Is this why I worked so hard?
Just to sit in an apartment, alone & empty, putting all my energy into a job I couldn't love.

“This isn’t me!”

This isn’t the life I want to live! 
This wasn’t depression; this was a wake up call.
I had this unsettling feeling that I was missing the “me I am supposed to be.”

So I stopped whining about my job, pouting over situations in life, eating Ben & Jerry’s to pass the time, and came up with a plan.

If I didn’t like my life then it was up to me to change it.

I told no one what I had brewing inside my mind.
I couldn’t tell anyone because for so long I let the world tell me who I was suppose to be.
I couldn’t loose focus of what I wanted by the distraction of other’s opinions.

It’s beautiful how people have different views on how to live life but it was time I start listening to my own heart’s desires.
At the end of the day, how does the way I live my life affect anyone else?

It’s funny how the world works; it can take so much from you if you’re weak.
I have given so much of myself to people who could care less.
Trying to impress people who were impossible to impress.
I’ve been in too many relationships where it was impossible for me to please the other.
Friends, boyfriends, and other acquaintances who just take and take.

But I let them.
I kept giving pieces of myself to people crossing my path.
I kept handing myself out hoping I had some sort of value to another human being.
So many pieces of me had gone missing.

I can’t say these people were undeserving of me because I didn’t know my own worth.

I so badly just wanted to make others proud of me, to love and be loved.
And I did for short amounts of time.
But it never stayed.

At the end of the day, I wasn’t proud of myself & I most certainly did not love myself.
How could I be proud of myself if I wasn’t passionate about anything I did?
How could I expect someone to love me when I didn’t even love myself?

I didn’t want to feel that way anymore.

I need to do something big. 
You're only in your twenties once. 
I have no husband or kids.
The time was now or never.

The ideas were endless when it came to what I wanted to do with my life.
Do I move to the big city? I’ve always dreamt of living in New York!
Do I spend a summer in Greece? I never did go for study abroad.
Do I go backpacking? I’d love to explore Europe traveling from hostile to hostile!

After a lot of thinking suddenly Hawaii was placed into my mind very vividly.
I don’t even know how to explain it. The choice was so clear.
So many crazy occurrences happened while resting on the idea.

To name just a few:

I was sampling some juice at an event and one of the guys who tried my product was wearing a Hawaii tee shirt. I asked him if he liked it there and he said he lived there in his twenties and it was the best decision of his life.

Another couple stopped me while I was out walking my dog. I honestly don’t even remember how the conversation got led but the husband said his biggest regret in live was not moving somewhere fun for a few years as a young adult because before you know it, it’s thirty years later and you missed that window of opportunity.

Just when I started thinking to myself I couldn’t possibly go because I couldn’t afford to live in Hawaii by myself, my friend announces that she just moved to Maui and needed a roommate.

Then again I think to myself this can’t work because I could never leave my dog. But sure enough I run into a couple at a bakery who’s son just took his dog to Hawaii and taught me about the whole quarantine process.

There are so many other weird and random, yet amazing and heart warming situations I came across the last three months that confirmed my move to Maui.

It just felt right, so I went with it.

I told friends and family that I felt more at peace about this decision than I ever have on anything else in my life.

Making this happen took lots of problem solving, advanced planning and budgeting.

I had a 3 phase plan to make this move work realistically.

Phase 1: Pre Hawaii
Phase 2: Transition to Hawaii
Phase 3: Post Hawaii

Each phase I had it own separate to-do list.


  • -       Tell my parents I’m quitting my job and moving to Hawaii... SCARY!
  • -       Save up extra money, so no more Starbucks...
  • -       Finish my job professionally
  • -       Find one last place for my dog to stay during my last business trip
  • -       End my lease in Seattle
  • -       Sell most my belongs
  • -       Sell my car (I wanted to liquify my life of any material objects)
  • -       Box up the rest of my stuff (Packing up my apartment all alone was a lot of work and right when I laid down in tears because I didn’t have the energy to pack on top of my work schedule, my neighbor randomly knocked on my door to say hi and then INSISTED she help me pack! Such a huge blessing from God. I am forever thankful to Terry in apt. #3304)
  • -       Load up all stuff (with my dads help) and haul it all across Washington into a storage unit.
  • -       Be homeless for one month while I finish out my job. *Special thanks to friends who allowed my dog and I to crash at their homes while I traveled and worked.
  • -       Start the quarantine process for my dog
  • -       Find a place to live in Maui that's dog friendly and affordable

  • -       Buy a ONE WAY plane ticket to Maui
  • -       Calculate how much money I have to not work for a month.
  • -       Confirm all my dogs vaccinations are cleared
  • -       Set my dog up at my parents house to live and begin wait
  • -       Find a ride at the airport + pick up

PHASE 3:           
  • -       RELAX for a month!!!
  • -       Find a church
  • -       Get linked into a bible study
  • -       Buy a car, something simple that can take my dog and I exploring
  • -       Learn what people do for a living in Hawaii, decide what I would enjoy for work
  • -       Apply for a job
  • -       Start online school at end of September

AND most importantly, PRAY.

God has most definitely cleared the path for me to come to Hawaii.
There is not a doubt in my mind that this plan was within his will for me.
From the cheesiest things like signs on roads or conversations with strangers to the craziest incidents like intense dreams, clearly written for me devotions, and many road blocks being miraculously cleared for me to make this move work. Along side the peace that has flooded my soul, reassuring that this decision is destined to be.

The glory goes to God for making this happen.
I have been so blessed.
God made a divine plan for me and I’m determined to seek it out.

Now here I am sitting in paradise.
There is no doubt in my mind I am finally where I belong.
I’m now on the path of healing and self-discovering.

So, here’s to me.
Here’s to me taking care of myself.
Here’s to fighting for my soul back.
Here’s to collecting the pieces I gave to the world.
Here’s to me rebelling against an empty life.
Here’s to starting over.

Here’s to being me.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

my one & only poem

To the guy that writes of me
What'd you think, I wouldn't see?
The words you put out there for free
I am still a human being  

Go ahead, sit and wait
But allow me to set you straight 
You & me, It was just one date

Yeah, I know it gets so old 
I come across as stone cold  

There's no saving me from going numb 
So many want me under their thumb

I have to use my best discretion 
That's why you look at me & question

I bet you think I'm just your kind 
I am not a girl you can define

They warned us loves just a game 
And now, I've learned & got good aim

I was not always this way
It's the other men that's to blame 

But really, I'm just confused 
What am I suppose to do?  

It's like they had something to gain
Each & every time I wept in pain 
Hit after hit, I can't seem to forget
That's why they say I walk with a chip

You see, I've given all of me 
To the ones that just up & leave

Now Let me speak for myself 
I'm working on my mental health 
You say I'm heartless, 
One big hot mess 

I can't help but take defense  
I'm sorry, I'm just a bit distressed 

I don't wanna get you down 
But I ain't ever gunna come around 
I tend to leave without a trace 
I just feel safer in my own space 

I do want to love and be loved 
Im sorry, you're just not the one 

Now I'm on this righteous path 
Please let me be & don't distract

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


"I like to think that you can’t sleep at night because of me. That I haunt you the same way you haunt me. That every time you close your eyes you still see the way I looked at you like you were my sun in a world of darkness. I like to think that the ghost of my lips on your neck or my head on your chest leave you wondering where I am or who I’m with. I like to think that you’re left wondering if you hadn’t destroyed the girl who tried to give you the world, if I’d still be there in that bed tangled up in you. I wish I'd stop thinking." 

Friday, February 6, 2015


"Because sending a letter is the next
 best thing to showing up personally 
at someone's door. Ink from your pen
 touches the stationary, your fingers
 touch the paper, your saliva seals the 
envelope, your scent graces the paper. 
Something tangible from your world travels
 through unknown machines & the hands 
of strangers, and it deposits itself in another's 
mailbox; their world. Your letter is then carried 
inside as an invited guest. The paper that 
was sitting on your desk, now sits on another's. 
The recipient handles the paper that you 
handled. Letters create a connection
 that modern and impersonal forms of 
communication will never replace."

And then her heart changed, 
or at least she understood it;
 the winter passed, 
and the sun shone upon her. 

now come home.
be here.
i miss you.

xo, ao

Monday, October 27, 2014

What College Taught Me... Outside The Classroom

I am a very organized, scheduled, disciplined, to-do list kind of gal.

So, when it came to my senior year of high school I did what was up next on the list.

I applied to college.

Where do you even start when it comes to applying to college?

How do you know where you should go?
What’s a good fit for you?
What should you even study?
Should I start at a two year?
What’s an AA?
Who would be a good roommate?
Should I do intramural sports?
What clubs do I join?
What differentiates a BA from a BS?

But hey, no pressure.

You know the saying, “College isn’t for everyone.”

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more.
College isn’t for everyone and college most definitely was not for me!

I had ZERO scholarships offered to me!

Does that make me non-athletic or academically challenged?

Those were the questions that ran thru my head.
College isn’t for me because...

    A)   I am not smart enough.
    B)   I am not athletic enough.
    C)   And you know what, I just finished 12 years of school and the last thing I want to do is go sit in another classroom.

So... the question is why did I go to college?
Well, like I said before; I am disciplined.

I applied to Washington State University, Eastern Washington University, and Arizona State University.

I attempted to apply to Gonzaga but the application required a five-page paper on why you want to attend the school and all I could muster up was a good laugh.

“Forget that!”

Anyway, I got into all the schools I applied to.
(Which is nothing special because just about 90% of applicants get in.)

Then at random I just decided to go to ASU since it was the furthest away from the small town I was in a hurry to get out of.

So, now I am graduated and it seems as if college went by in a blink of an eye.

And you want to know what I didn’t learn within my 4 years of “higher education?”


So, did I just waste not only 4 years of my life but also a big pocket full of my parent’s money?

After some long, hard thinking... the answer to that is no.

I think college taught me a lot. But most of what I learned in college was outside of the classroom.

You want me to elaborate?

You got it, dude!

Here is what I learned in college, outside the classroom.

  1)   Everyone finishes college at his or her own pace.

     From pre-K to twelfth grade we are taught that each age group should be reading, writing,    
     calculating, talking, walking and maturing on the same time frame! We take tests and assessments
     constantly telling us where we fall on the scale. It is literally drilled into our brains that if someone   
     your age is a step ahead of you then you are behind.

     It took me till my senior year of college to realize graduation wasn’t a race.

     Put the clock down and the comparisons away and just learn for goodness sakes. We may have
     spent twelve years thinking we are either below or above average but like Dr. Suess said,

     “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

22)   Don’t be so focused on the future that you are absent in the present.

      In college your whole mindset is on the future. I mean that is why you are there, correct? There are
      goals to be met, grades to be made and successes to be achieved.

      In college I was so worked up on making sure I made all the right choices and was on the right   
      path to my future that I was not living in the present.

            All thru middle school I wanted to be in high school.
            All thru high school I wanted to be in college.
            And all thru college I wanted to be in my career.

       I got to the point where I never felt like I had achieve anything because as soon as I made it to the 
       next step I was already focused on the next two steps.

       What a soul sucking way to live life, huh?

  3)   If someone doesn’t want to play with you, IT’S OKAY!

     In college it was a fantasy of mine to meet my long lost best friend or my soulmate.

            Four years later, neither one of those became a reality.
            My best friend is from my hometown & I am still single.

     I use to get my feelings hurt so easily when someone didn’t like me. But you know what that taught 
     me... Not everyone is going to love us and that’s how it’s supposed to be. If everyone loved me then
     I wouldn’t have any meaningful or deep friendships & relationships.

      Go find someone who does want to play with you and appreciates what you have to offer. 
     THOSE are the people who you should invest your time into.

  4)   Who cares what people think of you!

     Seriously... WHO CARES!!!

     In high school it was all about being accepted, cool and popular. You want to know what’s fun 
     about being popular?

     Because once you’re there, you’ll realize how empty & lonely it is on top.
     You have no real friends and it's boring up there.

      I use to really care what people thought about me.
      I always dressed accordingly, watched what I said, remained poise and never voiced my opinion if
      it meant arguing with the leader of the group.
      You know what’s fun, being the leader of your own group!
      I am the host of the Ashlee Show! (haha, sorry for the corniness)

      I finally let my true colors show. I stood up for myself and I voiced my opinion. I demanded to be  
      respected. When people have respect for you, you have respect for yourself. It is so vital to respect 
      yourself and feel confident in your skin. Self-actualization without it is impossible.

       I never tell people I changed, I tell people I ENHANCED myself. And that is the truth. I like who I
       am and I am finally at a point in my life where people’s opinion of me does not define my self     

       Do you know how much fun it is to be the crazy one dancing and singing karaoke at the bar 
       compared to the one who just looks pretty sipping a Cosmo?

        Well, speaking from my own personal experience... belting out and interpretative dancing to 
        Shania Twain’s “Man. I Feel Like A Women” IS THE BEST FEELING EVER!

        So seriously, next time grab the microphone and be the star in your own show. Oh and also, have 
        the humility to laugh at yourself! I promise you, it will fill your soul with JOY.

        And lastly, there is nothing more intimidating and admirable than someone who is confident!

   5)   It takes failure to succeed!

        My first class in college was English 101 and you want to know what the first words out of my 
       professor’s mouth were?

       “According to everyone’s testing scores in this room you are all in dumb English so.... pay    

       I was hand selected to be put in “dumb” English because of how low my SAT score was. LOL!   
      That’s encouraging!!!

       But you know what I did?
       I spent countless hours in my professor’s office after class and the writing help center with tutors 
      working on my writing skills and grammar.

      I got an A in the class; upgraded to “smart people” English 102 and now I write blog entries as a   

      (And no my blogs are not perfectly written but they are a hell of a lot better than they would be if 
       my teacher hadn’t told me I was dumb.)
       I have been rejected for multiple jobs, failed tests, and dropped out of classes. There are a lot of    
       things I really suck at! But at the end of the day I do not let these things define me. 

       I let them motivate me!

       And you know what? There are actually a couple things I am really great at.

  6)   Home will always be where the heart is.
      No matter how much I resented my little hometown growing up, out of all the places I have traveled
      to since moving out, it is always my favorite place to visit.

      As you age there is no better feeling than being home. Driving past my old high school, a quick  
     glance at my ex boyfriends house, the baseball field I slept on over night with my girlfriends, the    
     ballroom that held my senior prom, the Red Robin where I spent my 10th birthday, the canal I lost
     my first dog in, and the rink I spent countless hours in. These are all the memories that gave me the 
     best childhood ever and never again will I take my hometown for granted.

  7)   College isn’t the only time to find your soul mate.

      I am twenty-three and I have friends that are married, with kids, or still dating their high school 

      I sit at airports, coffee shops and parks admiring the grins on couples that cross my path.
      There are days I really question my self worth because I am still single.
      Days like those are no fun.

       But I think I had an “ah-ha” moment my senior year of college.
       “Singlehood” is literally your only time in life that it is acceptable to be selfish.

       I have embraced my selfish years. I know I want kids and a husband someday. But as for right 
       now, the only person I really have to take care of is myself. Everyday goes according to my plans.
       If I want to sleep in till noon on a Saturday I can do so in complete silence without anyone judging
       my lack of productivity. I go out or stay in on Friday nights due to my mood. I let my dirty dishes 
       pile up with no one complaining. And in my opinion, everything I do is right! HA!

       Of course there is occasional loneliness when you are single. We are humans.
       But I hear mothers and wives joke in conversation about how they’d do anything to get a moment 
       of their life back. Or how they wish they would have finished college or took that promotion
      when they had the opportunity.

       Being in that moment of life right now, I am going to   Live.   It.    Up.
       I do not want to look back and have regrets. I want to be able to tell my kids someday that I 
       worked my booty off in my twenties. I achieved a successful career and education before I became
      their mommy.

  8)   Everyone has his or her own idea of the American Dream.

       My last take away would be don’t go after a career just for the income .The goal in life should 
       never be wealth. Because...

            A) Money does not buy you love, happiness, and fulfillment.


            B) Everyone has their own idea of the American Dream so go after yours.

xo, ashlee