Being Single In Your Twenties

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Everywhere you look, especially on social media, countless people have found their one in a billion, their happily ever after. They’re cozied up with the one they want to share their life with, and those love bugs are following their feelings to the alter, into long term commitment, and forevers. You see couples kissing, taking cutesy pictures, exploring the world together, cheering each other on during the highs and the lows. 

I understand that comparison is the thief of joy, and I don’t believe the green is greener on the other side of the fence, but somedays, it’d be nice to have that one person that make you smile when you want to cry, that one person who makes you feel giddy when they walk into a room, that one person who is there for you rain or shine.

But I don’t have that. And that’s okay.

When you’re single in your twenties, it doesn’t mean you are not enough or worth it. It doesn’t mean you are going to be alone forever or that you are unlovable; it doesn’t mean you are behind in life. It can feel as though are, when your friends are bringing their boyfriends/girlfriends around, moving in together, doing all that jazz but you’re just chillin and third wheeling. 

Your life doesn’t start or become meaningful because you’ve met someone to share it with. Your life is meaningful if you give it meaning and purpose, when you know your essence and cherish your heart. You don’t need another soul to validate you or give you worth. You are worthy without the words to affirm it. 

Being single during my early twenties has taught me how to be vulnerable in who I am and what I want out of life. I’ve learned how to be independent, how to prioritize myself, my future, and my plans, how to walk into a room and know I belong without a familiar face in sight. I’ve learned the importance of being present in the moment, and understanding and controlling my feelings. I’ve found calmness in my own presence, and released the need to control what I can not. 

Going solo in my twenties and throughout college has taught me how to date, how to stand my ground, and stand up for myself. I’ve been able to find my voice, and not allow a voice to talk over mine. I will not make myself small for anyone. I figured out what career path I wanted to go on, took countless opportunities, and shaped my life the way my heart and mind desired. I didn’t have to compromise in monumental stages of my growth. 

Through my single years, I’ve learned valuable lessons like you can’t love people into loving you, you outgrow people who stay stagnant, and you should never, ever settle when it comes to love.

When you dream big and you’re a go-getter, you’ll scare people who don’t see the vision or can’t stand the heat. Thank them for the memories, but let them hit the road before they weigh you down. Attraction is essential, but if it’s not deeper than the surface, what’s the point?

A few side notes to it all—

Rebounds don’t work, but time does heal wounds. 

Forgiveness is your friend.

If you like someone, tell them. Show them.  

Jealousy is a waste of energy. No one is you, and that’s your power.

Don’t let your pride get in the way.

Understanding is the way to someone’s heart.

Love yourself and others will too. 

Trust the timing of things because you can’t rush something, you want to last forever. Enjoy the single season of your life because it won’t be like this forever. You have mountains to move and places to go. Have an open, receptive heart because you’re lovable, worthy, and deserving of a love as deep as the ocean. 

Cheers to being single in our twenties! 

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Graduation Reflection: How College Impacted My Confidence and My Heart

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I’ve had some time to reflect on the whirlwind of my life this past month— the newness of being a college alumni, the subtle emptiness of a once favored chapter, and the grand adventure waiting to unfold. 

As I graduated, I was in awe of all the work that had transpired for me to be in this moment—walking across the stage, receiving my diploma, turning the page on a place I called home for the past 4 years. I found myself thanking my family and friends, but most importantly, my gratitude drifted to all the letdowns and confusion I’ve endured because I was sculpted, molded by all my failures that became lessons.

Everything I had once wanted to work out, but didn’t, finally made sense. I understood why certain paths were just not for me, I was being prepared for my HELL YES.  

For a few short moments as I strutted across the stage, my life made perfect sense. I was me, and that was enough— no nerves, no distractions, just me and my value.

I had transformed, blossomed into a woman who is independent, resilient, and understanding of one’s self, others, and the world near and far. 

I had set my heart and mind to something and I achieved what I had planned to do; I accomplished something that once felt like a vague, distant dream. As I graduated, I watched it all come together, in harmony— a milestone, a coming of age story as old as time. 

A major revelation in my heart was that I am an adult now. I know they say 18 is the age you can vote and buy tobacco, move out and carry on, but as I hugged and thanked my mom, my presence was different— more confident, more assured, more adult-like. At 22, I became an adult. At 22, I graduated college and made decisions for my future that fell completely on my own shoulders. Longevity and fulfillment filtered into my decisions. 

I didn’t need training wheels for life anymore and for a few moments I glided as if I were invincible, as if I’d never fall. I rationally know I’ll rock back and forth, fall too many times to count, get a few scraped knees, maybe a broken heart or two, but with the wind in my hair and hope in my heart, I made one promise to myself— I’ll always get back up. I’ll always try again. I’ll always have faith in my heart to do better and believe in the magic of today, the magic of tomorrow, and the magic of loving myself. 

That’s one thing I hold near and dear to my heart, and know I must value through all the years to come— it’s so important to have love and respect for myself and the world around me. When I truly started to believe in myself, a ‘no’ could not stop me; countless no’s motivated me and served as a reminder that the ride is the most beautiful part of the journey. 

Graduating was rewarding, and it had meaning and fullness because of the grueling nights of projects and studying, because of the involvement I had created within my community with peers and professors, because of the passionate people I surrounded myself with, inspiring me day in and day out, and lastly because I was pushed outside of my comfort zone in every avenue. 

The ride was filled with tremendous growth and soul searching, experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world and as I reflect during my gap between graduation and leaving for the Peace Corps, I understand the important of the in between moments, making the most of the growing pains, and loving experiences before they are over. 

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and reflections like this, and I owe a lot to Florida Gulf Coast University for being the foundation for me to find my confidence and love for myself. Thank you mom and dad, Mark and Morgan, friends and family for the endless love and support, and rooting for me.

So cheers to new beginning and valuing those special people I wouldn’t want to live without! 

 

Ash’s Guide To Biking On Sanibel Island, FL

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One of my favorite things to do, especially when I have friends in town or have a weekend off, is biking all around Sanibel to discover the cutest cafes, stores, and locations. Sanibel Island has a bike/ walking path that is partially shaded and the best perk is, IT IS NOT SHARED WITH THE ROAD. (much safer) Once you are on Sanibel Island, go about a mile down Periwinkle to Billy’s Rentals. It is in the middle of everything and not too far from the beach. It’s open 8:30am to 5pm everyday.

For the bike I get, it’s $12 for 4 hours, but here are the rates and options:

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Once you get your bike, here are my top 7 places you should bike to:

1. Sanibel Bean Coffee Shop

 

It’s located at 2240 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL 33957 and it’s open from 7am to 2pm. It’s my favorite coffee shop in all SWFL. Not only is the atmosphere chill, it has the best coffee too. I always get the white chocolate mocha, but they have tons of specials or check out their menu before going. #sanibelbean

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2. Lighthouse Beach

The lighthouse beach is at the end of Periwinkle, so just bike until you hit the water. 112 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL and the beach opens at 8am. The Sanibel Island Light is also known as the Point Ybel Light and it’s one of the first lighthouses on the Florida’s Gulf coast, north of Key West. It’s such an enjoyable beach and the water is so different and pretty compared to FMB. You just park your bike at the bike racks and all the bikes have baskets so bring your beach gear along.

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3. Lighthouse Cafe

It’s right by the beach at 362 Periwinkle Way and it was such a great place for lunch. They are known for their breakfast and they serve it all day. They have a ton of specials at their restaurant and totally worth checking out their menu. They open at 7am to 3pm and then reopen for dinner at 5!

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4. J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge

1 Wildlife Dr., Sanibel, FL and it opens at 9 am. It’s a little bit of a trek from the beach and bike rental, but it’s totally worth it. This refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the US. It’s so serene and has a 4 mile path or 8 mile option, and you can ride your bike through it all. It costs $1 per person/bike to enter, so bring a few singles. It’s a great ethical way to interact with nature.

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5. Gene’s Books

The countless rooms filled with endless books– basically heaven. It’s located at 2365 Periwinkle Way, not too far from the bike rental. I’ve been to countless bookstores around the country, but this is my #1 favorite bookstore EVER! That should tell you how amazing it is. They open at 9am and you could easily spend hours there. So drag another book lover with you.

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6. Love Boat Ice Cream

It’s in the Jerry’s Shopping Center and is located at 1700 Periwinkle Way #9. It opens at 10 am. Homemade ice cream with every flavor you can imagine. I always get a chocolate shake or a banana split. For the ice cream lovers, this is for you! They also have a Fort Myers location, by FMB, which is the one I normally go to.

7. Sanibel Fresh

On the way to or from the beach, stop at Sanibel Fresh and get the Sangria. Such a yummy red Sangria! It’s located at 1020 Periwinkle Way and it’s a cute little cafe with outside seating and a health conscious menu. My mom and I loved it and shared a flatbread and potato salad, so I recommend those options. Check out their Facebook for reviews!

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I hope you enjoyed my recommendations.

Comment any questions or your own recommendations for Sanibel Island. It’s a great day adventure, so grab your friends, family, or take yourself on a little getaway. Thank you for reading, my friends. #travelingwithash

The Art of Letting Go in the New Year

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It’s an art, without a doubt— the art of releasing what is no longer serving your soul, letting go of what is toxic and draining. 

I am a hopeless romantic, and believe I’m destined for a beautiful, captivating love and I have yet to adore someone to the depth of my core like I desire and know awaits me. I make things bigger than they are because I believe this life is meant to be full and consuming and healing.

We don’t have to be who we’ve always been.

We can grow, become more of who we are really meant to be— the conscious being who desires to understand one’s essence. With that in mind, I look for the good in others and when someone is broken and their mind is off in wonderland, my heart swoons to their aid. I want to know their aches, their pain, their perceptions, their desires, their heart. 

I want to be a healer. I want them to be on the same level as I am, so we can be together. There’s only a few instances where this has happened for me because I’ve had the hardest time learning to let people go when they need to be set free.

I try to love them into loving me, and that can not happen. People are who they are and who they decide to be, and when they ask you to let them go, do it. 

There are billions of people in this world, but deep connections don’t happen everyday, and for me, I have created amazing friendship connections, but the love draw is almost non-existent at times. So I hold onto comfort for a moment, even when it no longer serves me and continuously gives me an assorted platter of disappointment.

That’s only because I had expectations, ones I knew they’d never meet. 

I made that choice to hold onto something that I created in my head, one sided, and through writing and communicating, I’ve learned that I create walls and barriers to keep people out who want to adore me and I for a long time took on the mission of wanting energies who didn’t want me because I couldn’t accept it.

I was vulnerable and felt unwanted, but someone who doesn’t love themselves can’t love you. My mind was becoming toxic to me and through these experiences I’ve learned, there is no question if I’m good enough— I am and always will be, but God knows those souls weren’t right with mine and this life isn’t a race.  

When I started trusting in myself and my gut, I truly learned how to be genuine in my release. To look myself in the mirror, and smile, knowing I’m being true to my heart and my vision.

Nothing beautiful in this life is forced, prodded, and skewed. When you’re free of the burdens, you see clearly without resentment or questions, knowing you’re serving your soul now. Happiness comes dancing across your chest when you don’t simmer in the hurt and questions— you can fly free when you let go of what is holding you down. 

A Wedding Unfolds in Puerto Rico

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There is love in the air— flowing all around us, captivating our long weekend with appreciation and joy. The beauty of Puerto Rico, especially at where we are staying (blog post to come) illuminates the kindness and admiration in the hearts of my mom and soon to be husband. With wedding festivities on the cusp of the day, we are reminded that love is gentle and it’s kind, but you can’t deny it’s also trying and moving. It pushes you to be a better you, and along the way the true depth of love shines above all else and moves mountains to be.

And that’s the thing about love, it’s about just being. 

Being you.

Being enough.

Being loved for all that you are. 

I talk about this all the time— there are billions of people in this world and somehow these two souls found each other to adore, to build a forever with, and to love unconditionally. They found the one their soul needed and wanted, even if they were unaware of it at the time. Flaws and all, there is love to be shared. After five years, it was inevitable that they were hooked on one another for the long haul. The way Mark looks at my mom is as though she was the one who put the stars in the sky and could walk on water. He looks at her the way Nicholas Sparks writes in his romance novels, the way we all dream of being loved.

My mom and Mark taught me the importance of valuing myself and trusting that someone, someday will love my entire essence as they love one another, but my worth is not defined by someone else’s ability or inability to see all I have to offer the world.

You can’t settle in this life, there are billions of people awaiting your presence. It’s okay to love big because one day, it won’t go to the waste side. 

Love is at the center of all my interactions and my friends and family cant attest to how often I tell them ‘I love you SO much’. It’s a powerful lesson to love unconditionally without expectations or demands or reservations— let it flow openly and be enough to keep you afloat. 

As I sit here on my villa’s porch and write while watching the waves crash, I reminisce on my mom’s love story. I’ve watched hers and Mark’s love blossom over the years, an undeniable pull to one another, one that couldn’t be avoided if they tried. They are a force to be reckoned with, spit fires with adventurous souls. They bring out the best in one another, even if mom can’t navigate. It’s about having fun and enjoying this life together, and that’s what they are doing. 

This life is precious and short, and watching my mom and my soon to be stepdad love one another through trials and twists and turns, I’ve learned that you shouldn’t waste another minute with space between you and the one you love.

If you love someone, be vulnerable, give your love freely and accept them for who they are and who they will be. Nothing stays the same— this world is not stagnant, so grow together and make the conscious decision to be present and love into the depth of your core. 

So thank you Mom and Mark for showing me what a beautiful love looks like and I cheers to you a lifetime of happiness and loving adventures. 

When You Begin to Understand Your Worth

When You Begin to Understand Your Worth

 

The days became shorter, as the moments fluttered with urgency and I no longer got lost in the wonderment of dissatisfaction.

I walk through each door as if I own the room and I belong, but I had spent so many years putting my head down and weaving in and out of crowds I couldn’t face, filled with jealousy that they had a place and I was an outsider. Now, years later, I know the truth— I belong in each moment, each pathway because I choose to, not because anyone makes me feel welcomed.

This world, this life is a mindset, you can have the victim mentality or you can be the hero of your own story, you’ll never be completely free until you can look yourself in the mirror and know you’re worthy and lovable. I would look at my reflection outside and behind closed doors and worry, question, and fear that I was not good enough, that I am not worthy of blessings, that I am lacking when others are more put together, little did I know, everyone is a basket case, but not a single soul is a lost cause. I am not a lost cause. Some say people never change, that who they are is engrained on the walls of their body, but I believe the patterns morph and transform into who that person is meant to be— I’m morphing into who I am meant to be.

If we stayed the same, if nothing ever changed in our hearts, our world would be stagnant.

Our first love would be our only love and our hatreds would last a lifetime, and we know that’s not our reality, we fall in and out of love like it’s going out of style and I can’t keep a grudge for the life of me, but that’s because I realize that life is precious, moments should be valued and that genuine love should be at the root of every interaction.

Things are learned, patience is accrued and time is something you can never get back. One word: special, rings in the back of my head— it screams as I look for a once in a lifetime love, a one in billion personality, a heart of gold. I don’t even waste my time on the questionable when my feelings are on the edge, ready to flee and jump into the unknown to avoid to the mediocrity that surrounds me.

I can feel it draining my contagious energy when it’s not full, and I run. I don’t run because I am scared of commitment or love, I run because I am scared of settling and lack there of. Waking up one morning consumed with “what if’s” and “whys” is my greatest fear and I use it as fuel to be better, to love greater, and require more because I refuse to be “content” or have just enough when it comes to my life and future.

With a world as wide and full, I know there is room for me to achieve greatness and sculpt the map of my heart to endure hardships and remain resilient, optimistic.

Along the way, I’ve been given a purpose and know myself well enough to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, to not fitting in, to standing out. So, I take each moment and spin it at my will, knowing these days are good, but it’s only going to get better, it’s only going up from here, my heart promises so.

The Experience That Taught Me What Love Is

The Experience That Taught Me What Love Is

I once loved someone so much that I was blinded by my own fascination and couldn’t see that his heart didn’t yearn for me, his hands didn’t reach for me, his mind was fixated elsewhere. I once loved someone so much that I was unable to face the reality that he just wasn’t into me, no matter what I was going to say or do, he wasn’t going to fall in love with me, he wasn’t going to wake up one morning and see that I am everything he could ever need.

I was vulnerable in my endeavor to dig digger, to give him the benefit of the doubt, but then the texts got shorter, our nights together became infrequent and I knew that, I had turned the corner from being caring and compassionate, to being pathetic.

I had to look myself in the mirror, and face the music that what I had been doing for a year was wrong. I was wrong— my gut didn’t lead me in the right direction this time….. or did it? I firmly believe everything happens for a reason and exactly the way it’s meant to, so as I experienced myself pining for someone to give me a chance, to look at me for me, I realized that’s not love, it never could be.

I was naive and became set on someone I couldn’t have— not because I wasn’t good enough for him, but because he wasn’t good enough for me and it only took me 365 days to figure that one out. I never wanted to feel like that again, and that’s why I had to endure breaking my own heart.

As I laid in my room, crying onto the letters I had poured my heart into, I learned I had loved the fairytale I had created with a mediocre guy, who could never truly be my prince charming. I created a love story and allowed my heart to pick someone who would only leave me wanting at the end of the day. Maybe, all of this, wasn’t love at all. My false perception of love that time round has taught me what love is, and what love is not.

Love is patient, kind, and forgiving— it’s full, promising, and warm; it makes your body weak and strong in the same instant, as if you can conquer the world, but you don’t want to do it alone. Love is freeing, with the birds you fly, open and observant, without fear of falling. You are free and secure in love, and isn’t that all we could ever want? I once thought I loved someone so much that I sacrificed the truth in order to be in his presence, and oh never again will I turn a blind eye to what my heart deserves.