Reflection: 2 Weeks Living in St Lucia & Peace Corps Training

Reflection: 2 Weeks Living in St Lucia & Peace Corps Training

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who has reached out to me, wished me well, celebrated with me, helped me pack, and has been rooting for while on this journey. I already knew my family and friends were special, but now I’m blown away by how beautiful, deep, and loving all the relationships in my life are. So thank you again and be sure to follow along the Doer’s Diary on IG!

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On July 2nd, I picked up my life along with 39 other volunteers to move to St. Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean (Grenada, St. Vincent, and Dominica) for the next 27 months. I’m currently in phase one of training for 4 weeks in Babonneau, St. Lucia to become a Primary English Literacy Specialist Volunteer with the Peace Corps to focus on promoting literacy in primary/infant schools. On August 2nd, I will find out what island I’ll be living on for the next two years and that’s where I’ll be for phase 2 and 3 of my training before being sworn in in October. I’ll spend the reminder of my service working at the same school for two years and during that time, I’ll focus on integrating with the community, making lifelong connections, and working with fellow teachers and kiddos from grades 1-3. 

For more information on the volunteers and programs in the Eastern Caribbean!

After weeks of packing up my townhouse, moving 95% of my belonging into a storage unit, and the other 5% in to my mom and stepdad’s house, leaving for the Peace Corps was upon us. I had to fit everything I could possibly need (and then some) into 2 suitcases with a max weight limit of 50 lbs each and one carry on. Let me tell you, that carry was a hiking backpack that weighed as much as I do. The backpack I used was a god-sent, and a best seller on amazon. So check it out, fellow travelers.  

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Packing in and of itself was consuming, and I am currently working on a packing guide once I get settled into the island I’ll be serving on, so I save future volunteers from packing too much or not enough.

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After my first three days of orientation on the island, all the trainees left the comfort of each other’s presence to move into our host family’s homes.

This is where the real fun began. You know the saying: “growth only occurs outside of your comfort zone,” whoever said that definitely knew what they were talking about.

The embrace and instant love I felt from my host mom made me feel so welcomed in a new environment. I quickly jumped into learning about my surroundings— exploring her extensive garden filled with pineapples, limes, lemons, cashews, Chinese cabbage, coconuts, plantains and the list goes on, learning a new language, adapting to new norms, and being on a whole new level of integration into a culture I could have only dreamed of. My heart is filled with so much gratitude for my host mom opening her home to me, and the people of St. Lucia for being so welcoming and kind as I ask a million questions and learn as much as I can. 

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Once I moved into my host family’s beautiful home in Babboneau, I struggled for a few days— feeling the loss of all the things and people I had been comforted by in my typical days back in the states. I cried, I shed my walls, and saw a newer, more open and vulnerable side of myself that I was willing to share with other trainees, my host mom, and my family back home. I began to realize how important this time was— I had shed my ego and left my masks to hide who I truly am back home. It’s been so humbling to just be me, and that’s enough. 

I am not immune to the desire for consistency and normalcy, but I have felt a lightness in my heart that has allowed me to be fully present and loving.

Day by day, I learn how we are all more alike than different, and how loving one another is our most powerful tool.

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Our first week of training flew by so quickly, with amble information on culture, diversity, inclusion, medical procedures, consolidation routes, hurricane tips, and so forth. My head could spin looking back at all my notes, but I’ve learned more about my role in development and leaving judgements at the door. Hearing the point of views from fellow trainees and staff has been such an eye-opening experience, to be more receptive and transparent in my endeavor to inspire and connect with others. I have been able to make so many wonderful friendships that are already starting to blossom, so for now, I’m living each day to the fullest and on Monday, I’ll be hiking with all my friends to the Sulphur Springs in St Lucia, the Gros Piton which is the world’s only drive-in volcano. So stay tuned for a packing guide for Peace Corps EC and Hiking Guides. . .

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I made it on local news in St Lucia where Peace Corps Volunteer share their stories!

Please feel free to reach out, ask questions, and connect. Thanks for being a Doer and enjoy one of my favorite quotes!

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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! 

What College Major Should You Choose?

What College Major Should You Choose?

Choose the major that excites you.

When I graduated high school, the million dollar question was, “what do you want to do next?”

College was inevitable for me— I always knew higher education was the path I wanted to go down and eventually, I’d find a career that I love. Yet, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to go to school for or what my end goal was. I wouldn’t consider myself indecisive, but after different experiences and exposure to new knowledge, my priorities, goals, and mindset began shifts and alter.

That leads to where I am today.

I’m on the brink of entering my senior year of undergrad at a university I love, and I will be graduating with degrees in majors I love even more.

Pressures to be a certain way or choose a certain path can be very real, daunting, and even promising; the people with influences on our lives try to guide us in what they believe is best for us— but, just because they think it’s best for you doesn’t mean it is. What’s really the best for us is to be free thinking individuals who are able to be held accountable for our decisions and ultimately, our mistakes.

When you make decisions and choices that are going to impact your life, it’s essential to remember that you are worthy and deserving of happiness and that with dedication and drive, your wildest dreams aren’t just wishful thinking.

Those aspirations can and will be your future if you allow yourself to absorb knowledge, grow through what you go through, and embrace the beautiful uniqueness of your soul.

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When you pick a major you love, you blossom and connect with a new sense of love for learning and growth.

You can envision a tomorrow better than your yesterdays. When you choose to expand your knowledge in a field that inspires you, you are setting up yourself for success and with that optimism and fortitude, you’ll either find or create a career that brings out the best in you— whether that’s through leading, educating, care-taking, and the list is never ending.

When you allow yourself to follow passion, working doesn’t feel much like work, but more as an opportunity for betterment and fulfillment. Good luck, you’ve got this!

 

Maddie Ruth’s “If It Seems Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is”

Maddie Ruth’s “If It Seems Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is”

This is the start of something really special; Maddie’s story is the first one I get to share on my blog for Empowering Women and I can’t thank her enough for being real, vulnerable, and open with you all to share her experience, insight, and advice. To read more posts from Maddie, her blog is https://withlovexom.blogspot.com!!!

It has been eight months since I made the best decision of my life.

I wanted to be in love with myself. With who I had in my life at the time, there was no way that would ever happen. I had to delete the negative to be able to receive that positive I was searching for.

So there I was, I was in love.

Love is great.
Love is strange.
Love is also blinding and my first love blinded me.

He turned me into someone that I never want to know again. I am going to share with you my story about how the man of my dreams made me realize that just because it is a ‘dream come true’ does not mean it suppose to be a forever type of love.

Why am I sharing this?

I never want someone to feel the type of pain I felt.

You know when you like someone and you want them in your life, you start to look past all the red flags. You just shrug them off and think ‘he really loves me so it’s okay.’ and begin to justify their actions.Well, it is actually not okay.

When I was a small child, my cousin sexually abused me. He was much older than me; the memories of this caused me so much pain, anxiety, depression and fear in my life. The problem about being a fighter (I use this word instead of victim because I am not weak) after sexual abuse is that you carry that weight on your shoulders for the rest of your life. Of course, you find ways to cope, but those memories never go away. You just learn how to make them hurt less with time. Which is a bunch of shit, if you ask me.

Now fast forward to where I was about a year and a half ago.

After finally coming out about my childhood nightmare, all I ever wanted was to feel loved. I’m not talking about the kind of love you have with your family because I had that— I love my parents more than anything. I wanted the love where you feel craved and desired. I wanted a love that would make me feel good about myself.

Then, there he was— blonde hair and blue eyed, standing there looking so good I wanted to eat him. It didn’t take long because a week later, we were dating.

That should have been the first red flag.

Who dates after only knowing each other for a week? I am sure people do, but I knew nothing about him. He came off timid and sweet and I was head over heels. I will tell you I had the best first eight months of my life with this kid. He was a dream.

A dream. That is all he ever was. We were long distance so I only saw the part of him that he wanted me to see. I will never forget the day he said to me “What if I change and you no longer like who I am.” Months later he did change, and not in a good way; I guess he was trying to warn me.

This relationship wasn’t all that bad. I learned a lot, I learned enough that I am going to share with you what I learned to help you. (You can thank me later).

He puts down his mother?

It doesn’t matter the circumstance…RUN. If he doesn’t respect the woman who gave him life then he will never respect you.

“All women just want the money”

If he says that and he breaks your heart just remember I warned you.

He tells you, “You’re so stupid”

First of all, throw the heaviest object at him that you can find at the moment and then end things immediately.

“You’re so clingy”

If you just want to cuddle tell him goodbye, if you want his location, boss’s phone number, social security number, and a phone call every hour you for sure need to chill.

“We can only talk on this day, and at this time”

LOL…True story I was blinded enough to deal with this. If this happens to you I want to remind you that no matter what he looks like undressed this type of personality should immediate turn you off.

He tries to change you

I have never understood that when people try to change the person that they are dating. I mean your personality from the start is what drew them to you, why suddenly is that no longer doable for them? If your S/O tries this, laugh and tell him to screw off.

Complains about money

I’m sorry?

Compares you to an ex

HA HA HA HA HA HA girl you can do better than him anyways

Doesn’t support you

This was my major problem in my last relationship. Support is everything if you are killing it and he is unable to recognize that I am making this clear to you that you can find better. There is someone out there looking to give you the recognition and support you deserve for all of the bomb s*** you do.

Remember your happiness comes first
I was always so afraid to upset my ex. I would get so worked up over nothing and that was not fair. Your health and happiness should always come first because happiness comes from with in. You can’t rely on someone else for your happiness.

He may try to hit you with the ‘let’s be friends’ line and honestly if you two couldn’t connect in an intimate relationship, a friendship might be hard to create after a break up.

Overall, what I want you to get out of reading this is that you have the power to be a self-motivated, independent, happy woman. I can’t tell you what to be, where to be or who to be, but I can tell you that if your man does most of these 10 things you can do better. I don’t believe men do it unintentionally sometimes it just happens out of anyone’s control. How you can control it is stick up for yourself.

If you see something you don’t like say something don’t be passive.
GIRLS ARE SO PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE.
I know I am and I am working to be more honest, straightforward and confident. Never let a man dull your shine girl, we all have had that one major heart break and I am telling you that you will survive.

Be you, know your worth and the right person will come along. You don’t need to put up with a guy just because you feel as though you can’t live without him.

With lots of love,
M

Love The Guy Who Doesn’t Love You Back

Love The Guy Who Doesn’t Love You Back

Then, KICK HIM TO THE CURB!

We have a long list of what we want in a partner— loving, compassionate, honest, understanding, stable, etc. It varies from person to person, as wants and needs are different for everyone, but at the end of the day, we want someone who loves us wholeheartedly. We jokingly say we want our own Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akin love, or we want the relationship our parents have or our best friends who are so madly in love. We see these beautiful couples with so much love for one another, but we only endure another letdown and heartbreak, not trying to be dramatic when I’m only 21 and I have so much going on that doesn’t involve having someone by my side.

You’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in the end, but here’s where some of us end up for a period of time in our love stories.

You end up falling for the guy who doesn’t love you back…..

The guy who doesn’t make plans with you.

The guy who uses you when at his convenient.

The guy who leaves you left on read for three days.

The guy who doesn’t communicate with you.

The guy who leaves you hanging on by a thread.

The guy who isn’t enough for you.

You should love the guy who isn’t enough for you.

Then, leave and know you deserve so much more than mediocre, more than decentish times.

Love can be complicated at times because it can’t be one-sided to be true. I once had a boyfriend, for a very short period, who adored me and treated me with so much respect and love; I could even compare him to Thomas Rhett in countless, thoughtful instances, but I wasn’t his Lauren Akin. My heart didn’t desire that love, and it ended. He deserved more than I was willing to give, so I set him free and I only pray those experiences touch his life in a positive light.

Then, there’s the polar opposite: you get a guy who you fall for and treat him as though he walks on water, but it isn’t mutual. This is important and I think it’s vital to experience— loving someone who doesn’t love you in return. When you constantly have to fight reality and convince yourself this is worth keeping, you’ve already lost.

When you are in a situation like this, once you are done, you will never, ever settle again; you will look right through the bullshit of excuses and know they just don’t feel the same, and it isn’t worth your time, energy, or tears.

You are meant for a beautiful love, and after experiencing this, it will only make you appreciate it more and in the future, you’ll give your love more wholeheartedly to someone who actually deserves it and honors you.

One day, you’ll find a love that’s mutual and full, so in the meantime, you should leave behind the guy who isn’t right for you, no matter how YOU feel about him.

xo,

Ash

 

A Whole Lot Of Optimism And Faith

A Whole Lot Of Optimism And Faith

I know something great is coming because I believe God is putting battles and obstacles in my life, so I can appreciate my life, my future accomplishments, and the relationships with my loved ones even more. Everything in my being tells me something big is in the works, and when I finally let go of other’s burdens and let go of my own resentment and pain, my energy can go towards the life of my dreams. Recently, life hasn’t been a walk in the park, like I had planned, but somehow, everything is working out exactly the way I need it to.

Although it’s not turning out picture perfect, I know I needed to experience the pitfalls to get to where I am now.

I guess there is a way you want things turn out, and there is a way you actually need them to, even if you don’t see it at the time; sometimes you need a win and sometimes you need to learn a lesson and use that to make better decisions for yourself in the future.

Things aren’t always going to turn out the way you thought, but life’s about figuring out how to make things work when everything seems to be falling through. I’ve learned lately and many of you can probably relate to the fact, we can’t control other’s actions or the way they treat us, and we definitely can’t control who loves us and who wants to be in our lives, but we can make conscious decisions to value ourselves, our needs and not be content with being in environments that don’t support us.

With every failed relationship, marriage, friendship, and opportunity, it’s best to focus on what you’ve learned from it and how it’s going to better you, and with that mindset, you are free and no longer have to carry around burden of another ending.

You have a choice: you can either play victim and act as if life is crumbling when your plans are interrupted or you can embrace the change coming and use that transition time to rebuild and become the person you want to be. It’s all up to you, but I promise when you let go of resenting change and open up your heart up to all the possibilities, your life will be hundred times better.

I am so thankful for the hardships I’ve endured recently because it teaches me to be flexible, receptive to the environment around me, and enjoy life, even when it seems to be beating me down.

Life is too short to be unhappy, but your happiness is a choice and you get to make that choice for every situation, no matter how heartbreaking it may be.

Optimism is your door way into your next big endeavor. You must believe that when one door closes, two more are going to open up for, and it’s imperative you take the leap and have faith into your next journey because what is to come is greater than anything you are leaving behind.

I’m not sure what’s next or what’s coming, but I have heard many times, “God laughs when you make plans.” so I trust that something monumental is upon me and I’m ready for the adventure ahead.

You Might As Well Learn Your Lesson The Hard Way

You Might As Well Learn Your Lesson The Hard Way

That’s when you learn the most.

Looking back on all the pivotal moments in my life can sometimes make me cringe or laugh or even want to burying my head in a pillow from embarrassment, but besides the different emotions I associate with my ups and downs, each failure, let down, and eye-opening experience was completely necessary. There were many cases where I didn’t handle things “properly” or display myself in the best light and then there were moments I felt pathetic, stupid, and worthless. There were experiences that stomped a little on my heart and pushed me to my limits, but as I grow and look back onto those experiences, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Everything happened exactly the way it needed to in that moment, no matter how I reacted, portrayed myself, or felt.

At 20, I still don’t have all the answers, and I’m wise enough to know I never, ever will. I have walked through a lot on my journey so far and still have plenty to go, but the knowledge and thoughtfulness I’ve accumulated over the years has brought me to these realizations.

You can’t change the past, that’s definite. Thinking about how you handled a break-up over and over again or the conversation you had, will not change it. You can take responsibility for what you’ve done and how you’ve handled things, but at the end of the day, we are all human— we’re learning, growing, and handling things our own way. Here’s a friendly reminder: there’s no wrong or right way of doing life. Your perception of the past is what it is, but now you have the present and eventually the future, so it’s important to take what you’ve learned and apply it to what’s to come. As cliche as it sounds, you are not your past and it doesn’t define you, but let it shape you into someone you’re proud of.

Now with your hard-learned lessons, recognize and acknowledge that you act out or let your emotions run rampage or that you need to watch your tongue or any of your so called “flawed” characteristics, so in future cases, you don’t allow yourself to make the same decisions that leave you feeling beneath yourself.

Growth is continuous and never-ending, so baby steps are okay too. It’s vital to remember how you felt in certain moments and why, so your heart and mindset can be in line with your actions and the way you communicate.

Most lessons suck, let’s be honest. Whether it’s locking your keys in the car, fighting with your best friend, getting that hard-core reality check, transferring colleges, the list could go on forever, but let’s be thankful we aren’t the same person we were five years ago or even six months ago. As I’ve said before, I have countless lessons to go before I’m wise, but shifting my mindset to valuing hard times as a learning experience has changed the game for me.