When Life Gives You Lemons, Count Your Blessings

As humans, we crave a sense of control, and with that in mind, we create these plans, goals, and ideas that will help us create the life we want with the people we love, doing what we want and how we want to do it. We get caught up in our expectations, and lose sight of our realities and the guidance from a higher power, but oh how I am grateful certain things didn’t turn out the way I desperately wanted them to at some point.

Everything in life has an opportunity cost. When choosing to attend a certain University, the greatest alternative given up is attending another at that point in time or when deciding to date someone, your most valued alternative given up is staying single or have a trade-off of dating someone else or meeting someone new. So you make rational decisions that you believe will add value to your life, but although we have great intentions, it doesn’t always mean we will have great outcomes. Good intentions does not always mean good results.

That’s when life hands you metaphorical lemons, and those lemons don’t make life very peachy.

Those disappointments or abrupt changes in “our plans” can at often times deter us from pursuing certain avenues or trying again after failed attempts, but we shouldn’t look at our revised plan as a setback. It’s a new direction for us to explore, and indulge in, even if we can’t see it clearly at the time.

You have to trust the process and trust in yourself to be enough and deserving of greatness, love, experience, beauty, and all that goodness.

So for me, when things don’t go the way I intended, I have to remind myself, “I can’t control the universe. That’s not my job!”

This is the part where I count my blessings, not once, but twice, while I adapt to the new path on my journey. It’s a beautiful process, bumps and bruises included. Each experience— good, bad, ugly, and everywhere in between— really is a gift that we get to grow and learn from while getting one step closer to where we are meant to be.

So when life hands you lemons, you should count your blessings while making your new reality work for you.

The Process of Valuing Yourself

Self-love doesn’t happen overnight, and more often than not, it’s something you have to consciously learn how to do, like I did. I remember growing up and everyone wanted to be the same, have the same interest, experience the same things, and when someone broke out of the societal norm, they were considered weird, rebellious, or even labelled the outcast.

When you are constantly being criticized while you have an impressionable mind in tough years of creating the blueprints of who you are, self-love may sound like a foreign concept to you.

I’m here, to promote it, and advise you to indulge in it. 

Loving yourself does not make you conceited or selfish— it’s embracing who you are, accepting your faults and characteristics, and finding peace within yourself. It’s a vital aspect to growing into a well-rounded, purposeful, fulfilled, enlightened human, who is able to indulge in a deeper level of consciousness and show authentic compassion and love toward others.

Self-love is simplistic, but carries so much weight in our lives. There are days I feel less than pristine, and instead of trying to find validation from an outer source, I find it from within by reminding myself that I am capable, worthy, and beautiful. I choose to look at all I have to offer the world, instead of expecting the world to owe me anything for just existing.

This is your life, filled with all kinds of circumstances, but you can’t let the burdens dictate your mindset and vision. When things crumble, rebuild stronger. When relationships fail, carry your lessons into future experiences so you don’t let history repeat itself. When times get hard, become someone you are proud of. While you grow and learn how to love yourself, take some time to highlight your successes and be real with others about your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

This life is far too short to be anything, but genuine and if anyone criticizes you or rejects you for being real and authentic, they are not the people you need in your corner.

In case nobody has told you before, you are worthy and you are deserving of all life has to offer. You have the ability to be your biggest advocate and fan, if you choose to be. It can start off small, indulging in your own interests without worries of judgement, trying new things you’ve wanted to do, choosing you and your happiness.

It’s easy to become a doormat, who gets walked all over in friendships or in relationships, but asked yourself, “If I really loved myself, what I allow this? If I really valued my happiness, would I do this?” Love yourself by doing things that don’t hurt your soul or belittle your feelings— stand up for yourself because you do matter.

There are going to areas that we lack in our lives— maybe it’s in relationships or within your family unit— but just because you don’t always feel loved by others, doesn’t mean you aren’t lovable and deserving. You matter a whole, and you should consciously choose yourself everyday, even if you feel as though no one else does.

It’s a process, a journey that can take a lifetime, but if we consistently try to better ourselves and love every piece of our being, we will find happiness and peace from within.

The Tale Of An Outsider On The Inside

Ever since I was young, I looked at the world with open eyes and desperately wanted a place to belong, a place where I was understood and enough to meet all the expectations of society and my peers. I searched for years, never finding the answers I was looking for.

While on my quest to belong, I found out a lot about who I am and what I want out of life. I never was, and probably never will be, the girl who has a million friends— constantly going out, being invited, knowing I could do anything with anyone whenever I wanted.

It’s not that I have a mediocre personality or unbearable insecurities or a fierce resting face, it was just as though no matter what I did or how I did it, it was never enough for everyone around me. I tried to force conversations, but that didn’t work. I tried to think they like did, but I was not a good actor, so I stuck to myself and a few good friends.

I’m the girl who has one or two very best friends, but gets along with just about everyone I come in contact with. A smile finds my face every time I enter a room and pleasantries are shared when I meet a new face, I have no problem meeting people. What I struggle with is connecting with others, the way I wish to.

Maybe I could blame it on my expectations, the quality of connection I crave, but I’ve learned it’s rare.

My mind goes deep, and I get lost in my thoughts more often than not. For all my years in school, I would be considered likable and rememberable as I was involved with activities and captain of sports teams. I may be remembered as nice or smiley or smart, but I struggled to connect with any of them at my essence when I felt we didn’t see eye to eye. I walked to my own beat, especially when I stopped caring about fitting in or even being liked. I gladly labeled myself as an outsider, but I had all the luxuries of being on the inside— I was invited, I was remembered, I was voted for.

It’s the weirdest combination— to always have a place in the center, but to never belong.

Now in my college years, I’ve found my purpose, my belonging and that’s loving people who are in my life so entirely and completely because they see who I am, they see my worth and value me as so. Now there’s no such thing as fitting in for me— when I look around at others with different values, morals, priorities, lifestyles, I do not desire to be them or inside their clique or follow their rules. They are who they are, as I am who I am, and that’s exactly they way it’s meant to be.

We aren’t designed to be the same— some need more reassurance than others, some need more friends, space, or power. One is not superior to the others, it’s just the route you are belong on. We all are just trying to find that sense of belonging inside our reality.

Learn To Love Again

A few years ago, I got into a relationship and quickly fell without really knowing what I was getting myself into and although it came to an end quite sometime now, I am able to reflect on that experience. I’m so thankful for the gifts and lessons I’ve acquired from the good and bad times. I faced a lot of fears and overcame many obstacles, and even though I chose to say goodbye, I am a better person because of this relationship.

I recognized the fact that I have divorced parents and at the time, none of my friends had a serious relationship in their lives, but I decided to go wherever my heart were to lead me and to not let my head always get the best of me.

The highs were breathtaking and beautiful, but I valued the relationship even more when things got didn’t go smoothly and it got real and we had to face the fact that nobody is perfect and it can’t always be rainbows and butterflies. The lows taught me how to be vulnerable, how to be forgiving, and how to be committed.

 

From early on, I had never been the girl to have a boyfriend or want anything super serious and it all came down to I didn’t have anyone in my life I wanted to go through hard times with until I realized life is worth taking risks, especially when it comes to love.

I always assumed I was better on my own because being isolated means I wouldn’t get hurt and I wouldn’t be let down and disappointed, but now I realize that was letting the fear of commitment win.

John 4:18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect with love.”

Love and commitment are compliments (economics major, I can’t help it) and you can’t have one without the other. When we let God lead, He will lead us to the one who holds the key to our hearts, but we live in a society where cheating is almost acceptable, having a side chick is laughed at and expected, and commitment isn’t a given.

When I say ‘I love you’, it’s a promise to be there for you, to support you, to honor and respect you, and to be by your side when the waters get rough, but love comes and goes, and is often said before you actually grasp it’s magnitude (been there, done that). It’s one thing to say the words and it’s another to show actions that prove what you are saying because actions speak volumes.

We acquire many imperfections over the years and we have our faults that we carry into relationships, and who are we to expect our significant other to be flawless? God teaches forgiveness and when love is at the center of your relationship and there is genuine remorse, there is no point on being bitter or resentful to one another.

When you forgive, you set yourself free from unsettling feelings and then you can continue bettering your commitment to one another.

Basically, you should find someone you’d love to goof around with and grow with for the rest of your life.

Out Of Your Control

“Not My Monkeys, Not My Circus”

Sometimes, you just have to let go of what you can’t control.

Living with this motto engrained in your head allows you to still be there for others, especially the ones you love and would do anything for, without internalizing their issues and making them your own. It’s in our nature to care for others and to lend a helping hand when called upon, but it’s vital to be able to separate yourself at the end of the day so your mind is boggled down with problems you can not solve.

When issues arise for others and you are roped into the situation, there is only so much you can do. Of course, you should give them your advice, support, and guidance if you can, but at the end of the day, the ball is in their court, not yours. This saying reminds us that it’s completely unnecessary to take on everyone else’s problems because it’s impossible to outthink the universe by trying to control it. We don’t have that power and never will.

The other day, my mom and I were having a conversation and I was over analyzing a situation that had happened earlier the day. When I finished babbling on about the unforeseen event, my mom said to me, “Not your monkeys, not your circus.” I had only heard that phrase a few times in my life so I went in my room and reflected some, and it was like a moment of enlightenment. The magnitude of this is great because it’s crucial to let things go when you are not the one in control and to focus only on the stuff directly going on your own life (your own circus). Although this may sound selfish, I think it’s imperative when you have your own monkeys and circus to deal with on a daily basis.

Life is far too hectic to be consumed with someone else’s side show and mess and when you are working towards your goals and working hard, others shouldn’t bury you in their chaos.

However, I pride myself in being there for others and being all ears when they need to vent, but there is a fine line between being there for someone and taking on their problems as your own. I have a mile-long to do list, but stressing about someone else’s issues is not one of them.

I’m only human so I am empathetic and care, especially for the ones I love most, but sometimes, I just have to take a step back and realize my life just doesn’t have room for the extra chaos.

Be Kinder Than You Feel

 

Years ago back in my early school days, another passing girl spoke with conviction as she called me a hurtful name, giving me a label she thought I deserved. If I knew then, what I know now, things obviously would be completely different, but it was a moment in my life that opened my eyes to what our words mean and how they can impact someone.

Labels, how freely we give them away, thinking we have the authority to make those accusations and judgements, to be the dictator of what is good or evil or right or wrong or justified.

Our directing mind should have no room for such mockery, but unconsciously we make snap judgements, and sometimes those hurtful thoughts come to the surface and spread like wildfire, leaving that person’s reputation tarnished and burned.

We have that power and the choice to bring hate or positivity into the world— proceed with caution when choosing hate because we are all one, and what comes around goes around.

When a person makes a decision to experiment with their sexuality at an up and coming age, does that make them less than you? When a person runs away from home at a young age, does that make them a trouble maker, unwanted, a bad influence? When a person doesn’t share the same interests as you, does that make them weird or the outcast?

Labels stick like glue, and often times follow you through your years, especially through your school years. I’ve heard people use horrible names to describe others they hardly know, as if they are all-knowing and have the right to say those things. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, yes— but with such a short time on Earth, why use your mind, your thoughts, your voice to hurt someone else? Why use your voice to spread hate and degrade others?

Everyone was created with a unique sense, but essentially we are all the same: we have the same needs and desires, just varied in shape or form, and our destinies are all unique, special, and created for each one of us. With that in mind, the kid you call a freak or an outcast or a nobody or a loser or the girl you call a whore or a bitch or any hurtful name under the sun— you have no idea what they’ve endured, what they are going through, and what they are destined for.

If we had that knowledge, maybe we would be more understanding, maybe we would reach out and lend a helping hand, maybe we would take interest in what they are doing, maybe we would think twice before spewing hate into an already dying world. There is so much love in our hearts, but it’s our own insecurities and fears that make it easier to look in on another’s life instead of reflecting and trying to understand our own struggles within ourselves.

With a more conscious mind and a loving heart, we can spread good and love around with acceptance and understanding.

Better Than I Was Yesterday

Going through life changes and actually evaluating yourself is often times challenging, but we make it more difficult than it needs to be. When we look in the mirror and analyze who we are, we are gazing over the exterior first and then sinking deep into our soul; we constantly highlight our flaws and what we’d change, both psychically and in our personality, and as we do that, we are subconsciously comparing ourselves to the girl who seemingly has it all together.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” but it’s all we do.

Social media will be the death of us. We see the girl who is instagram famous with a million guys pining over her and two million girls dying to be her. We see her highlight reals and perfect selfies. We see her excelling, and having the perfect hair, body, friends, family, house, etc. We see perfection when we analyze her, but when we look into ourselves, we see flaws and imperfections. We see everything that is wrong. But why? Why are we so quick to adore others, but forget to see our worth? Ladies, we are not in competition with one another; we all have different strengths and weakness and far different hearts.

Having a pretty, symmetrical face doesn’t make you more beautiful than the girl who has a soul that radiates.

We have this mixed up perception that others don’t struggle with the things you do, but I promise they do. We work tirelessly to keep our flaws hidden, like we are the only one who struggle with anxiety or depression or have shaming circumstances. We assume the girl that is smiling with her perfect friend group is what we should be aiming for, but we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. We don’t know who she is without her mask; being real, especially on social media, is seldom the case, but yet we compare like it’s our day job. We are all guilty of it, like highlighting or acknowledging our flaws to the world is lethal, but it’s needed.

Self-love is a crazy concept because that means accepting and loving yourself with all your craziness included.

You can love yourself while wanting to better yourself, but do it from a place in your soul that craves to be a better you for you. It’s all about intentions so only compare yourself to the person you were yesterday and keep improving to be the best version of yourself. You will be so loved and beautiful.

Embracing Change

 

Let’s be honest, change is not a walk in the park and I have struggled lately with accepting all the unknown. It took countless hours of praying, writing, and talking through it to clear my mind and give me the strength I needed to pick myself back up and carry on because we all know life stops for nobody.

When I endure hard times, I usually look to distractions to keep my mind busy, but when those distractions fail to keep me indulged, I am forced to face what I’ve been running from and the feelings I’ve buried deep.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of change and I think it’s healthy, especially when you let go of things that aren’t bettering you, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. When you change your norm, you’re to have an overflow of emotions and for the past couple months, my life has a whirlwind of change and my emotions are finally coming back together.

There have been days of overwhelming happiness and then there are moments of grief and pondering if I am making the right decisions. When you are strong and independent and a free spirit, like myself, you make executive decisions that are thought out and meticulous and that way, you have no one to blame, but yourself for your feelings and happiness. It’s all on you and it can almost feel devastating when the night sets in and you’re all alone when you use to have someone by your side through the days. Those moments, I can see a glimpse of regret moving in, but I have to remember things will get worst before they get better. That’s why distractions don’t always work for me, whether that’s dating a rebound, going out more often, or taking on new activities.

I’ve learned you have to enjoy your own company and invest in yourself in order to move on and to embrace the changes coming or else you’ll never be at ease.

You have to face what is going on in your life and that may take some time, but distractions won’t fulfill that void you feel. Sometimes I think, I dug this hole myself— I’m not allowed to be upset or mad or resentful, but the truth is, I’m allowed to feel however I feel. It’s imperative to feel those emotions, even the ugly ones, but there’s no point in dwelling in the pain because it won’t last long. In order to move forward, I had to learn to let go and truly let go of the hurt and the only way you can do that is by being forgiving, even when you didn’t get an apology you desperately wanted. Whether it’s a family member, friend, ex, or whoever, you can only move forward with your own life and happiness if you aren’t holding onto anger towards them for things you couldn’t control.

Forgiving them doesn’t make what they did to you okay; forgiving them means you are freeing yourself from the pain they caused you and you deserve to be free. We all do.

It won’t be like this for long so just keep holding onto what you believe is right— you’ll get to where you need to be

Meet Ashley

I’m Glad You’re Here

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Thank you for coming to the Thoughtful Blonde Blog.

Blogging has been quite the journey for me filled with a lot of realizations and self-discoveries, and I’m only starting to get the hang of it now, that’s why I chose to jump on over to WordPress.

So let the fun begin…………..

I’m a midwestern girl from Indiana, who moved down to Southwest Florida about six years ago, in the prime of my high school years. It wasn’t always a walk in the park, but the lessons I learned during hard times are the reason I am able to share my stories today with you all.

On this blog, I’ll be talking about everything under the sun– from overcoming obstacles to my fashionista wardrobe must haves to places to travel. I am a huge OPTIMIST, so even on the gritty stuff I put a positive spin on it because we are in charge of our own lives and happiness. I love talking and collaborating with other bloggers, writers, brands so feel free to contact me!