Guess what, y’all?

I’m a homeowner.

Due to my ridiculously slightly superstitious nature, I wanted to wait until things were certain before I made the big announcement.  It happened so quickly–it was only a few months ago that JB and I decided to start looking at houses–but the opportunity presented itself right way and we took it.  I once heard, “Good things happen slowly; great things happen all at once,” and hoped that mantra applied to the house we wanted to purchase.  After numerous phone calls, scanned documents, and trips to the bank, I signed a ton of papers and received a house in return.

I’m excited, relieved, and more than a bit terrified about all this.  Aside from moving to Wisconsin, this is the only “adult” decision I’ve ever really made.  There’s definitely the legal aspect of it to make it scary (30 year mortgage, taxes, home emergencies that I can’t call the landlord to fix now) but the idea of having a new “home” really freaked me out.  To me, “home” has always been Kentucky and the house where my mom lives.

Now I’ve got my own “home” which, in my mind, meant that my old home isn’t mine anymore.  Though I haven’t lived there in years, that house on Shady Lawn was the one place I knew I could always run to.  Now I’ve got something of my own to take care of, to take responsibility for.  I’ve got a place to build my own family and raise my own children…a place that is 8.5 hours away from the only place I’ve ever known and the people that mean the most to me.

So I guess it’s time for me to learn a new place.  My heart will always belong to Kentucky–no amount of time in the Midwest will change that–but after living in Madison for three years I can finally say that I like it enough to stay for a spell.  Y’all come visit anytime.  🙂



Never Give All the Heart

Things were going well…until I got that email.

“That” email was from a trainee in some classes I taught in early October. “That” email said said I was “completely inadequate” and “taught my class nothing.” “That” email took me completely by surprise.

Since I’ve moved into my new role (corporate trainer) my life has been great. The stress of traveling, customer issues, and implementation overall wasn’t for me–I was extremely unhappy and didn’t feel like I was my best self in that role. As a trainer, I actually look forward to going to work–coming in on weekends even–and feel like I’m using my talents to make my company better.

After I got “that” email, I didn’t feel that way anymore. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, less than enough. Which, admittedly, isn’t a foreign feeling to me. Growing up I never felt skinny enough or pretty enough, never black enough or white enough to fit in. In college speech I didn’t feel dedicated enough; in my sorority I didn’t feel cool enough. In relationships–don’t even get me started. That’s another blog post entirely.

One of my favorite shows Smash (about a musical based on Marilyn Monroe) featured a song called Never Give All the Heart. In it, Marilyn sang about her past loves and how she always gave everything she had only to receive nothing in return; she wished she hadn’t given her whole heart to have it returned in pieces. It’s easier that way, holding back. If you don’t leap, you won’t fall and possibly get hurt. But it isn’t the way to live. God gives us tests to make us better and teach us lessons that will make us the people He needs us to be.

So “that” email isn’t worrying this girl anymore. I’ve got some work to do absolutely, but I’m not inadequate by any means. I’m giving all I have in this job because I know I have what it takes–no one is going to make me feel like “that” anymore.

How have you dealt with feelings of inadequacy? What advice would you give to someone in that situation?

Never Give All the Heart

Drops of Encouragement

Now that I’m training full time, I’m talking a LOT. Not to say I don’t talk a lot outside the classroom (we all know it’s something I do more than I should) but now I spend most of my work time talking my head off too. Combined with a cold, I sound like a ripoff James Earl Jones. I think it sounds sultry; most people just mention congestion meds. My throat is a wee bit creaky.

Cough drops have been my friend as of late. I guess I haven’t bought them in awhile (or at least not name brand ones) because I completely missed the addition of “A Pep Talk in Every Drop.” Each wrapper features brief phrases mean to cheer you up and push you forward.

Maybe I’m a sucker, but this is fantastic. Someone who feels bad enough to need a cough drop could probably use a word of encouragement. They make the brand look sympathetic, like a friend.

And they actually kind of work. At least I was pleasantly surprised and unexpectedly appreciative of those kind words. We should speak more encouraging words to one another. Lift each other up and help each other be their most superior selves.

And your throat can be feeling just fine.

Drops of Kindness

Beyond the Moment

Last night, my boyfriend and I went to see 12 Years a Slave. If you haven’t heard about based on a true story film, please navigate to the Google immediately and commence searching.

Chiwetel Ejiofor shows us the pain and anguish of Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery. Based on a true story, the film displays the race-divided South with brilliant clarity. It reminds us of what was.

And here we are. Things thought absolutely impossible aren’t even an afterthought. Of course we should vote, and own property, and go to school together. Of course we are human.

But still exists the stereotyping, profiling. Suspicion. Blackface. We are better, but not best. 12 Years a Slave serves as a great reminder to keep the past in the past and always look beyond what works in the moment.

God Stopped and Took Notice

This weekend, my great-grandmother (known to me as Grandmommy) passed away.  She was 88 years old; her health had declined over the years.  Though we knew she was in ill health, the news of her death still came as a shock to me.  

As a young child, I spent a large part of my time at her house on Henley Hill Rd.  A small trailer home at the end of the lane, my cousin Cedrick and I spent as much time outdoors as in.  I remember vividly Cedrick teaching me how to ride a bike on the gravel driveway in front of her house–my legs still bear the scars from my failed attempts.  Grandmommy taught me a thing or two as well, such as how good luck can be brought on my unexpected events…like the bird that pooped on my leg while sitting at a picnic table in her tree-shaded yard wasn’t gross, it was a sign of good fortune.  She had a hard time convincing Cedrick of that fact when a bird pooped on his head in her yard though.

Her kitchen held Shredded Wheat cereal–the big sugarless bricks, not the cute frosted squares–and a deep freezer with a seemingly endless supply of orange, cherry, and grape popsicles from the Schwann man.  Her television was a huge, wood-framed thing.  She always attended church and was a fixture in the choir.

A few weeks ago, I was going through an old box and found the card she gave me for graduating college in 2009.  For my radio broadcasting internship in college, I billed myself as “Ashley Maxine” in tribute to her.  I don’t think she knew that when she congratulated me on getting my college degree, but I hope she appreciates our memories of her and how we’ll honor her now that she’s with our Heavenly Father.

I imagine that my Uncle Bernest and Granny ‘Loma greeted her with a song at the gates of Heaven.  Her husband and daughter (Grandaddy Babes and Aunt Donna) weren’t too far behind.  She’s probably singing praises so loudly that God has no choice but to stop and take notice, just as we did all those Sundays in church.

A Work of Purpose

I think I love my job.

You wouldn’t have heard me saying that earlier this year. In fact, you would have seen my frustration and stress in every glance and halfhearted wave in passing. I looked for new jobs on my lunch break and cried myself to sleep in hotel rooms on business trips.

And then, just when I was at my lowest, God blessed me with an opportunity to switch roles at my company. It would mean a salary cut of over $30,000 but it would also mean little travel and constant use of my greatest skill (public speaking).

And now, after just a few months in this new position, I think I love my job. I look forward to going into the office on the weekends to get things done. I volunteer for new tasks and feel purposeful every single day. And that’s something I never saw coming.

What is your dream career? What are you doing now to reach that goal?

Tis’ the Season

Is anyone else already feeling the Christmas spirit?

Halloween has barely passed, Thanksgiving is over three weeks away, and here I sit making my Christmas list. Ever a planner, I’ve decided to get a jump on Christmas 2013 by outlining and budgeting a bit early this year. My goal is to get gifts for everyone (including my friends and colleagues at work) for $500 or less. That may sound like a lot, but with a list of over 20 people giving the gifts I want may prove challenging.

This year will involve a lot of homemade gifts; I’m really looking forward to flexing my creative muscle. I’ve already got a Pinterest board with ideas and may start making gifts as early as…now!

What are your plans for gift giving this holiday season? What creative gift ideas are you hoping to try out?

List (pg. 1 of 3) and cards to prep for sending