A year of Self Care

2017 will be the year of self-care.

No more “yes of course! ” when I want to say no.

I have anxiety. I’m allowed to have anxiety. I can choose to explain it or not explain it. I am an introvert who tries very hard to socialize for the sake of my extrovert husband. But sometimes it’s too much and I have to say no. People exhaust me. I don’t have a group of people I click with enough that going out doesn’t seem like a chore. I need to feel safe and comfortable. Large crowds, alcohol, what seems like a million eyes scares the crap out of me. I don’t have panic attacks as bad as I used to, but I can never relax enough to enjoy myself. The next day I’m not recovering from alcohol, I’m recovering from over-stimulation.

I need to be around my animals. Yes, we all love our pets. Mine are unofficial therapy animals. Petting them, hearing their snores and purrs, a soft head rubbing against my palm, a cat tracing figure 8’s around my feet. This calms me, this grounds me. They know when I’m not okay, they know when I need a walk because my thoughts are racing or snuggles when the world has been too ugly.

My home, my people, my animals, my quiet little piece of land – are my everything. This place energizes me, it grounds me, it feeds me. It is my place of solace in a world that’s too cold, too mean, to filled with hate. Home is safe.

Yoga for my soul not just my body.

I do yoga because I love yoga. I change it up so I don’t get bored never truly perfecting any move or flow. This year I start Ashtanga. Repetition of a series of poses that go from easy to hard, following my own breath. I get frustrated with this series. I get mad at myself for not getting it right away. I get mad at my body for not being flexible, for not being looser, for hurting when I twist here and bend there. Yet at the end, during my savasana, I am proud that I pushed through. I look back and realize that I turn my “God why won’t my back bend” to grabbing a prop and letting my body slowly ease into a pose and loving my body for it. Ashtanga slows me down and forces me to realize that yoga is not for perfection. It’s for working out your shit on a mat and coming up gasping for new air at the end of your savasana.

Write

I will write. I love to write. I’m afraid to write. I feel like if I could record my thoughts without speaking or writing it would be better. But that’s nonsense. The words in my head sound amazing. Then I put them down and I tear it apart. I have 3 authors in my family. No, they’re not huge but they’re published. The gene is there. The thoughts are there. The confidence is not. My husband bought me an open-ended prompt book that hopefully will help. It’s not something I asked for – but he saw that I was writing here and thought it may help.

“Don’t avoid the suffering, But don’t be crippled by it.”

Empathy needs balance. I read this on Facebook. The site I honestly hate now. I never wanted to see how hateful people can be. But this I needed to see. I have lost the balance. I have allowed myself to be consumed by the evil of this world, of people I thought I knew, and I have let it hurt my heart and turn it into this dull version of itself. I did become crippled and I barely fought back. I’m going to step back from social media, from the news. I know it’s like putting on blinders and walking through life avoiding truths. But for now, I just don’t want to spend as much time surrounded by negativity. I need to feed the positive, the courageous, the determined, the loving part of me.

I think that’s enough for one year, don’t you? I always hate the idea of new years resolutions. But I think 2016 put us all through the ringer and we need to find the good and the light again. so 2017 will be the year I find my light and share it with the world again.

I Will Fight

November 9, 2016

No matter who runs our country, it does not change my views or my beliefs. I believe climate change is an imminent threat, I believe in women’s rights and our right to chose, I believe in equality for all genders, nationalities, colors and orientations. I will still fight for these things.

I will pay a voluntary Carbon Tax to offset my carbon footprint. I will recycle more. I will grow and buy as much food “farm to table” and organic as I possibly can. I will do my part to save our world. I will not wait for someone to tell me I have to or tell me climate change is a hoax. I will be the change.

I will support my sisters. I will not judge for what she does in her personal life, it is not and has never been my place, Her Body, Her Rules. I will not undermine another woman’s success, I will congratulate her for working hard and reaching her goal. When I see my sisters facing oppression and losing their voice, I will speak for them. I have never hid behind or cowered before anyone and I will not start today. I will be your voice.

I will see your soul. You are not your color, your gender, your nationality, your orientation. You are a soul God created to be loved, not hated, I will love what He created. I will speak up when I hear intolerance and backwards view. I will be a small voice saying This is not okay. I will love you, for you.

I won’t say I’m not scared, That I’m not pissed off., I am. But instead of sitting in a corner I will use this anger to fuel the change I want to see. Oh but I’m only one person? Yes I am one person, one strong and determined person who just happens to do her best work when she’s angry.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

Crustless Cranberry Pie

 Photo and Recipe from allrecipes

This is one of those recipes that you look at and say “meh it could be good.” Then you crave something tart and make it and beat yourself up because you didn’t make it sooner. It’s that good!

 

Okay so there’s a few things I switched up in this recipe.

For one – Craisins instead of cranberries. They’re a lot easier to come by and less work to use them in this pie.

Second – All purpose flour works great, cake flour works even better!

This doesn’t last long in my house since it can be eaten for breakfast with coffee (so yummy) and  can be eaten without a fork and plate.

Mieke and The Beam

We dog train on Saturdays and it’s the thing we most look forward to doing. We love the people we work with so much and we are constantly in awe over their dog whispering abilities. Mieke has graduated from basic on-leash obedience and Oakley is still learning his On-leash. Mieke started in March 2016 and we started Oakley soon after we adopted him in June.

 This is Lady Mieke. She’s a 2-year-old AKC Sable German Shepherd born on May 11, 2014. The day after my husband and I got married. She was fate for us and I’m surprised she wasn’t named Destiny. We call her Mieke or Moo. She is super smart and very independent. She is different than most shepherds because she has 2 Alphas – Both my husband and me. She likes him more most of the time until she’s sick or hurt then loves me the most. Picky dog 🙂 She also listens to him better and loves to push me until I give up. I think she’s my training for children.

 Oakley is a rescued Dutch Shepherd Mix. He was 10 months when we adopted him so we picked his birthday to be August 7, 2015, after my great-grandfather who is the reason I love my shepherds so much. We saw him in a Tractor Supply on adoption day and both Mieke and I loved him. I went home and could not stop thinking about him so I went back and picked him up. I hadn’t planned on getting another dog for a while. My childhood Shepherd Mix, Ozzy, unexpectedly passed away in January and my heart was still healing. But my promise to Oz was that I would adopt in honor of him and give all the love I could no longer give to him, to a dog who needed that love more than others. That’s how I ended up with my sweet boy Oakley. He has the same loving and sweet heart my Ozzy did but actually lets me cuddle him like Oz didn’t. He is a quick learner and wants nothing more than to make you happy. And maybe a tennis ball or 20. We have bonded so quickly and he’s helped with the healing of Oz so much. I honestly feel like he was sent by Ozzy. 🙂

We discovered this week that Mieke had been playing us. You see we’ve been doing off-leash training for a while and she was not doing great. She wasn’t doing bad but not the level we expect from her either. We started training her on an E-Collar before we found our trainers and it mostly worked and they suggested we go back to it for off-leash. Now? She’s so on point and just a champ on the obstacle course. Go figure. It’s hard to get Mieke from “Play” to “Work” Mode and the E-Collar signals that for her. I know some people are against E-Collars – I am too – For people who don’t know how to properly use them. But I’m against any training tool used in properly. Remember when I said Mieke was smart? She knew everything we wanted from her and chose not to do it. She did it enough to get by and the collar changed that. To the point that she did this.

 We run her through the obstacles to challenge her mind. German Shepherds are working dogs and she loves to work but we have to make it fun for her. She has never done the beam before and she watched Daniel jump up on it and she followed. She jumped from the ground to the beam on her first try and sat down. This dog is SMART! When she jumped down she was excited barking and running around to all of us to get her congratulatory pets and good girls. We work her for moments like this when she is proud and excited for herself.

Next, I wanted to see if she would do it for me. She’ll do anything for Daniel almost so I placed her on the spool then had her walk out on the beam herself. And she did it right away.

Y’all I don’t photograph well ever but look how happy and proud she in this picture! WE are so so proud of her! We got lucky and their barkbox had been delivered when we got home so they both got some extra special treats and napped for a few hours when we got home. Overall, a fantastic training day!

Flux

edits-1-of-1-2

My name is Ashley. I am the worst thing in the world; I am bored. At 26 years old I’m already bored. I’ve been searching for my thing. My job? Yes, I love it, I’ve been in the same place for 10 years. I was the lucky one who had a Co-Op in high school that set me up for success. Yes, it took work and a degree but I had a company that worked with me and I still enjoy working there. But that’s work – and I need something more than work. So a hobby, yes let’s find one. Dog training? Oh, I like this one but it’s something my husband and I do. I need something for me. Yoga? I love yoga! But I like yoga in the morning, not in the evening. Specifically, I love sunrise sun salutations, that’s a small window. And I wake up at 6 AM to be at work by 8 AM, I think I miss sunrise in that getting ready part. Photography? I’m trying but I’m still a novice, though I’ve cranked out some really great dog portraits. People? Not so much. I love to draw, in CAD. Yea pencil and paper? Not my thing unless I have a drafting board and a parallel bar. Not exactly something that would inspire the masses. I’ve remodeled and drawn the addition for my home and while it amazes me, my husband says “looks good” and that’s it. He’s not being cruel, it’s just technical art. I want something that I can show my soul with, something that I can pull it apart and piece it back together the same but better. Oh. Writing. Writing for someone who is in engineering, someone who is math based, someone who really needs spell check and Word saying “girl you need like 5 commas in this sentence.” But it’s something I do every time I need freedom to be myself-I write. So I’ll write for me. And for you. Because maybe you’re like me, maybe you’re confused and bored and just trying to figure it out. Maybe you need a hand sticking up in the crowd of mid 20’s happily married homeowners going to the Bahamas every year saying “Hey! Nope not me, my last vacation was my honeymoon and it was a 3-hour drive away and was only $93 a night for the house! And yea I’m a homeowner, to a house that needs badly updated, is only 900 sq ft and the roof leaks and its really only worth about $40k. It was my early inheritance because my family didn’t want to pay the taxes on it after my great-great aunt died.” Maybe I can be that hand for you because I don’t understand how they do it either.

Cravings Cookbook

capture

Cravings – Chrissy Teigen

This is one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever owned.  And I say that because I use it. Frequently. Oh, I have plenty of cookbooks. It’s a family thing. We collect old church cookbooks with their “add a cup of lard” in every recipe and use maybe 2 recipes out of the whole book. I will be honest and say I have never bought Crisco in my life. Sure it may be the secret to homemade biscuits but Mary B’s biscuits go from frozen to delicious in 20 minutes in my oven. 

Anyway, back to this book. I laugh while reading it at her witty comments and cuss while saying “Who the hell has a mortar and pestle just laying around!?” This book has made me amazon shop for Tahini, which small town grocery stores do not have. By the way, Tahini is ground sesame seeds. Google says you can sub any nut butter for this. They lied. So I use this book. My husband uses this book. We pull it around once a week to find a recipe we want to try or already love. There are some in-depth recipes in here but they’re fun to try and usually turn out so so good (I said no substitutes remember).

I also see that her blog (sodelushious.com) is down now so I can’t share my all time favorite recipe. It’s one that she didn’t share in her cookbook and it’s called Sleepy Time Stew. It’s a 4-hour stew but it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten and I look forward to the first chilly day in the South so I can make it.

Energy

I believe in energy. I believe it is constantly flowing into and out of us. Bringing in our surroundings and putting our intentions out into the world. I believe you’re most like the people you surround yourself with. Those influences matter and their energy matters because it’s feeding yours. And your’s is feeding theirs. This goes into the “Tribe theory” That each friend, mentor, person in your life has a role beyond just good company. This person brings to or enriches a part of you that you have too little of or none at all. For example, my best friend is creative and chaotic compared to my planning and precise self. I want more creativity in my life and he fuels me in that, he inspires me, he builds up my craziest dreams and forces me out of my comfort zone. Meanwhile, he has some stability and needs more, and that’s where I fuel him. I’m good at “adult-ing” and I’m good at guiding people. We both offer a different perspective on each other’s lives and we’re both better because of it. We both have this good energy for each other and we send it in every conversation we have, whether we mean to or not. It’s the most amazing feeling to know there is someone putting good energy into the universe for you with no self-gain and these are the friendships that are most precious in life.

Now I’m not saying get rid of all of your friends that don’t fit these criteria, just to be conscious of what they bring to your life. If one friend is constantly gossiping/bragging/complaining about their life, that’s maybe a friendship that needs work or needs to be let go. Those relationships bring a toxic energy into you and it can go 3 ways. 1: You’re fueled by the energy  and start gossiping, start complaining, start trying to out do them. Toxic. 2. You can talk to people and fend off their negative energy and not let it affect you (go you!) Safe. 3. You know it’s  wrong and their energy makes you feel uncomfortable. You either choose to stay quiet or choose to say something. Toxic. The third option is what happens to me. I’m more sensitive to certain energies than others: anger, grief, the nasties. Anger I can feel in my stomach – its a churning and bottomless feeling. Grief I feel on my upper lungs, a heavy, smothering weight I have to breathe around. The nasties I feel in my hands, arms and eyes. I can’t keep my hands still, I’m always fidgeting and trying to find anything else to do, I can’t keep eye contact long with these people and it leaves me feeling very uncomfortable and wanting to leave the situation as quickly as possible. I could say something but I don’t much like to argue. I’m good at it but not without losing my cool head and saying things I would later regret, so I avoid confrontation if I can. Two situations have arisen with nasties lately and I’ve handled them the best I could. One was my husband’s friend that I always seem to clash with and his man-centric ideals don’t align with my feminist ones. Rather than continue to feel uncomfortable I explained to my husband how I felt and asked that when it’s him without his current girlfriend I’d prefer not to be around him. Husband is more than welcome to continue being his friend but I don’t have to be. The second situation is with a friend turned ex-friend turned back into a friend. I’ve realized that some people do not change and grow as they appear to and this is a relationship that I still need to decide to fix or let go of.

I think energy is one of those things you don’t think about until it’s pointed out. Then you look back and notice your feelings and reactions and say “Oh! it’s so obvious now.”  This week was my reminder to pay attention to what I surround myself with and make sure it’s nourishing me and growing me.