How I Grew When Life’s Game Plan Changed

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A chapter in my life closed, abruptly, before I really knew how to process my reality and the emotions that would follow a faint goodbye. A month has passed since I moved back to Florida after believing I’d be gone for nearly 2 years.

Plans changed. My roadmap of what my life was SUPPOSE to look like shifted. Being able to write and share that it’ll all work out has given me peace within this chaos of grieving and starting over.

When I chose to go into Peace Corps almost a year ago now, I thought I had found my calling and I knew exactly what I was suppose to do; I was going to be of service to others. I had a glow in me for months before I left, a glow that is hard to describe to this day. Then, one day, I woke up and that spark in me was gone. It faded slowly over time until I didn’t recognize myself, my habits, or my new day to day behaviors. I was going against my intuition at so many turns, and my heart and mind weren’t on the same page. My heart wanted to stay, to serve, to love, to give, to be, but my rational fears were greater. So I broke my own heart, in order to follow what I knew to be right for me. I see now, no one was benefiting from that. 

Sometimes, it’s hard for me to talk about my Peace Corps experience in its entirety because although I left, it doesn’t mean I don’t wonder. I wonder about the people, the work I did, my school, and my kids. I wonder if anything I did stuck or mattered. I wonder if I was of service. I wonder if things could have been different had I spoken up sooner. I’m human and I wonder, a lot. I spend nights awake, hoping that I’m moving in the right direction, hoping that I am taking care of myself.

But as my mind runs wild, I try to calm it.

Knowing that the ‘what if’ game is torture to every inch of me.

What have I learned from starting over again?

I’ve learned, I need to trust my intuition and protect my well-being.

I can be strong by being vulnerable, asking for help, and accepting that sometimes I need a hand to hold onto.

I don’t need to justify my reasons or prove myself to anyone. I know my truths. 

My self-worth is not equated with my accomplishments, titles, or roles. I’m enough, worthy, and loved for just being me. I am enough and I’m free of the burdens to be something I’m not.

This is not a failure for me, this was part of the plan. I did something I had always wanted to do and I did my very best, but there were factors out of my own control, ones I couldn’t live with. So instead of having to justify anything or belittling my time away, I’ve learned to love my experience for all that it was. I even love the parts that left me a little bruised and fragile because it’s allowed me to rebuild stronger, fuller and better than before.

I don’t know what’s next or what tomorrow holds, but I do know that I am stronger now because I am choosing to just be. I do know that it’s dark before the dawn, and this life really is sweet, even when it’s heavy.

A New Perspective When You’re Feeling Less Than Special

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I hear it often, and it saddens me: 

People saying, “What, they think they are special? They aren’t special.” Their venomous words scream right into your face. It feels as though, a dark cloud is tapping on your shoulder, whispering a gentle reminder that rocks your core. “You’re a nobody, you aren’t special.”

The words echo again and again, as failures come rolling in, and the setbacks feel like hurdles you’ll never be able to clear. You start to think, ‘I am a nobody, nobody special.’ I’ve been there, done that too. I’m here to tell you otherwise, but as I write this all, I begin to wonder who I am to tell you different? Who I am to tell you all the thoughts in your head are just against you, to just feed your mind sweeter thoughts?

Am I a nobody too? 

Absolutely….. not. And neither are you. 

Am I not special because I don’t have the most beautiful face or the best voice or the sharpest wit or the most intuitive mind? 

Absolutely not. I’m special because I don’t have all the those things, and because I have other qualities that make me, me. Own that! 

I am Ashley Louise DeBoer, and that means something TO ME. It really doesn’t have to mean much to someone else because they may not know my heart or the way I think, or my energy might not be their cup of tea. Quite frankly, we aren’t going to be everyone’s favorite or second favorite; there will always be someone else with prettier hair, more money, MORE MORE MORE, but we aren’t playing a comparison game, at least not in this lifetime. We aren’t defined by the masks we wear, the amount of money or followers we have. 

It’s so much deeper than that, miles beyond the surface. 

As cheesy as it sounds, we’re all so incredibly special, so deeply important and unique. Not a single soul is the same as the next, so that ultimately means you are one in 6-7 billion. No one laughs the way you do, thinks the way you do, expresses themselves the way you do, dresses the way you do, experiences life the way you do. 

Each one of us is so special because we bring our own perspective to the table, even when we feel as though we are lacking or behind. 

The way you think and talk about your loves, passions, and ideas contributes to your beauty, your uniqueness. No one has lived this day the same way you have, and that’s pretty dang special, and that’s why I’m here to remind you that voice matters, your opinion matters, and your existence is validated, even when you feel as though you are sinking under the pressure. You’re suppose to be at the table, serving up all your thoughts because your perspective and perceptions should and can be heard.

So thank you to all the creatives, the listeners, the thinkers, the writers, the ones who say I love you first, the ones who show up despite the fears and reservations, you are our friendly reminder of the importance to value ourselves and all that being ourselves encompasses. 

Don’t worry so much about being something you’re not, the best thing you can be is you, as they say, “ be yourself, everyone else is already taken” So continue to see the badass that you are. Cheers to being REALLY, shockingly SPECIAL! 

21 Things I’ve Learned By 21

21 Things I’ve Learned By 21

Some of us 21 year olds are getting engaged and starting families, some of us are in college or finishing cosmetology school, some of us are working away and joining unions, but there are three things we have in common: we are three years into adulthood, we are legal to consume alcoholic beverages, and we don’t really have it all figured out yet. However, I’ve journaled down thoughts that I’ve learned over the years and I think they may serve as nice reminders for you all. So here are the 21 things I’ve learned by 21:

  1. You’re young— know the difference between being selfish and valuing yourself. It’s okay to put yourself first, your future depends on it.

  2. When you’re upset, mad, or frustrated with someone, don’t start texting them a million things that you’ll later regret. Take a breather, and call them and meet up with them later. Texting solves absolutely nothing.

  3. Forgiving yourself and forgiving others is not an easy task, but it’ll set you free and allow you to move forward with your life.

  4. Quality over quantity, especially when it comes to friends; valuing close, genuine friends is so much more important than being surrounded by the masses.

  5. Your greatest power is being you, embrace that with everything you have.

  6. No matter how old you get, you have to follow the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated because being kind and loving doesn’t cost you a thing.

  7. Make decisions that excite you, don’t make decisions based on what someone else wants you to do. You’ll end up, going in circles.

  8. When you put in the extra mile, it always pays off. The effort will serve as guidance for what the next move should be for you.

  9. There are spiteful people in this world, that are venomous with their words, but those people don’t deserve a place in your universe.

  10. Although there are hurtful people out there, there are also absolutely incredible ones who bring so much light and love into your life.

  11. With that being said, you never regret telling people you love them, value them, and appreciate their existence. Whenever you get the chance to engulf others in your admiration, do it.

  12. Enjoying your own company better be on your to-do list because people come and go, but you’re a constant and when the day turns into night, your mind must be kind to you.

  13. You don’t have to be who you’ve always been; there is room for change and growth and realizations to become who you are meant to be.

  14. You aren’t going to be liked by everyone, you’ll be too much for some and not enough for others. That discernment has nothing to do with you, and entirely to do with the person making those judgements.

  15. You DO NOT need a significant other to be whole. You DO NOT need a boyfriend. You DO NOT need someone to tell you you’re pretty, valued, and worthy; you should know you’re all those things without relying on those words of truths from someone else. You are complete, whole, and enough on your own.

  16. Taking the opportunity that fuels your curiosity and excitement is one well taken. Whether that’s moving, taking an internship, exploring a new country, you will find out new things about yourself along the way.

  17. Holding onto rage and anger hurts you more than anyone else; let that baggage go and know you don’t have to be bitter.

  18. Your circumstances do not and will not define you; you are not a statistic, you are a person and you can beat the odds.

  19. Sex can wait, but it doesn’t have to; whatever you prefer is right. Whether you’re in love or looking for a fun time, you must remember to be kind to your body and soul and make sure to value yourself and your sexuality. You don’t have to give yourself away to anyone who asks.

  20. Let life take you where it wants you to go, you’ll end up exactly where you’re meant to be.

  21. As cliche as it sounds, really don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. You are an important and have a valuable mind that is unique, so know you have the ability to stand out and achieve all your wildest dreams. You will fail, oh you will fail plenty, but you just have to keep getting back up and try again.

So if you take anything away from my lengthy list, it’s that you are important, loved, and valued, and you should live your life with your urgency and drive.

A Key To A Happier You: Forgiveness

A Key To A Happier You: Forgiveness

This past week I was in Chicago for the holidays and somehow, Chicago has a way of inspiring me to produce my best work. So here are some of my recent thoughts on forgiveness and self-love.

The city evokes my curiosity, the wonderment of the unknown, uncertainty, and largeness of the masses. As I grow older and have new experiences under my belt, I begin to wonder, could I find sanctuary in the chaos? I don’t say home because home, for me, is more of feeling and less of a residency— home never quite felt like home and love from just family never felt quite whole, so I searched for a substitute for what I lacked my whole life.

I came up empty, filled with resentment, anger, and even jealousy to those who had what I did not.

Now, my heart understands and my mind is on the same page— disappointment runs in my veins because I create these expectations in my head about how people should be, act, and care for me when the reality is, most things don’t revolve around me and their inconsiderate manner is just part of their universe.

I can’t change them, especially when my resentment covers me like a silent plaque, until I am no longer accepting their existence. I go ghost into my own world, uninviting and shrill to their ideology, because no matter how they cling to me, I act as though it’s never enough, and that is entirely on me. My skin screams to be touched, to be hugged, and to be loved, but their presence only lingers in the back of the room, refusing to put forth effort I desperately crave.

For a long time, this one undeniable thought laid prominent in the center of my mind through all my acts, “I’ll never be enough for you.”

But through the years, it’s not that I am not enough for them, but actually the opposite begins to ring true. That I know, and how is that fair for me to be so judgmental and act as though I am superior? When I am not, nobody in this world is.

So I chase it back to the source—

I take a look at who I am and what my needs are, and focus on some of my truths.

I would never be happy in a small town with small minds and small endeavors with the social norm being to marry young and have babies to carry on the name to raise up to be football jocks and record breaking stars. I would never be happy to work for someone day in and day out with little growth, no new knowledge, no experience that leaves me feeling fulfilled and enlightened. I would never be happy, if I chose to stay instead of leaving for my next adventure, but with choices comes opportunity costs and trade offs.

In order to take on a new adventure, I had to say goodbye to the only house I ever knew, goodbye to the closeness of my father, goodbye to my best friends who have been by my side almost every hour of every day.

I had to embrace the loneliness of the newness in hopes of finding what my soul needed most; Fear lingered, but I never allowed it to make me back down. See, I have no problem engulfing myself in new passions and desires, but when I try to free my heart of the restraints of sadness I’ve endured, I refuse.

I refuse to start new with the ones I love most— I refuse to truly forgive and let down my walls I’ve built up to keep them out, but that’s the start of my journey to self-love.

In order to love myself, I must be free from my burdens, relinquish any hate festering in my soul, any and all unsettlements to my soul and I’m starting with taking responsibility for my soul actions and acknowledging my imperfections, bruises, and lackings in a vulnerable way to heal and repair what I view as broken.

Who I am— is what my soul exudes. I have the choice to be a better, more loving version of myself, who honors effort and has faith in mankind, who understands most people are just doing the best they can. People love differently, handle stress differently, communicate differently— not wrong, just because it’s different than what I choose to do. I’m aware that love needs to be at the center of all interactions, and people deserve second, even third and fourth chances, without having burdens held over their head.

Forgiveness for yourself, forgiveness for others will be the one thing that will restore your faith in unconditional love.

I’ve linked one of my favorite articles below, so check that out!

Forgive… And Feel Happier

You’ve got this,

Ash

 

 

 

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

The Process of Valuing Yourself

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.