You Are Not Alone (So Tell Your Story)

4.12.2014

The other day I went grocery shopping and ended up chatting with the cashier briefly. She happened to bring up that she had taught in Japan for two years. My ears perked up.

"How have you been doing since you've returned?" I asked.

She looked me straight in the eyes with a sadness I instantly understood, and said, "It's been hard."

"Yeah, I came back from London about 9 months ago, so I know just how you feel!"

"It's like...you've lost your spot. Right?"

I nodded my head and thought to myself, "She gets it!"

***

These moments are magic to me. So magic, I'd almost call them a divine reminder that we are never alone in our struggles.

The danger lies in never telling our story for fear that no one will understand. Plenty of fellow nomadic souls understand. Whether you need to speak with a therapist, a friend, a fellow wanderluster (in my case), or a brick wall (but maybe find a person instead)...TELL YOUR STORY.

...Tell your story because it's important, and you're important.
...Tell your story because it will help you heal.
...Tell your story because everyone deserves to be heard.
...Tell your story because what you're feeling is not ridiculous, and somebody understands!

Because there's something powerful in the ability to connect with other people--other temporarily lost souls that may not be lost for the same reason, but feel the same existential longing within themselves. I will tell you that once you start baring your soul, you will not be able to stop. You are not alone, so tell your story.


Perfectly Acceptable Ashley

4.10.2014

It perfectly acceptable...


  • to believe I have special powers when in my mind I think, "Man, I could really use some cornbread!" and then an hour later my coworker happens to bring enough cornbread to share. Guys, I'm magic

  • To profess every Friday National In N Out Day at my work, where everyone is required to eat In N Out together (this has worked twice so far). 

  • To have a cronut and a maple bacon donut in one outing (I may have developed a stomach ache later in the day).

Conversations with Male Coworkers, Vol. 3

4.07.2014

Conversations I hear or are a part of in an all-male working environment...

Z: The worst thing would be if the zombies and robots rose up at the same time. We'd have to fight both.

(There is some variation of this convo everyday--zombie apocalypse, robot takeovers, guns you should own for such takeovers, etc.)

***
Me (to my emo coworker): You look like Monday morning.
J: Don't even talk to me today.

***
Z: I’m going to start a Live Action Role Play Dueling Society.
Me: What?
Z: We’re going to have our inaugural duel on the anniversary of the Aaron Burr duel.
Me: This is a thing??

***
(After I bring a Eucalyptus Mint soap to the office)

B: That soap is amazing! 
J: Yeah thanks, Ashley, I do appreciate a good soap. 
A: It makes my hands tingly! 
Me (thinking to myself): Men are abnormally obsessed with pretty-smelling soap! 

***
(to preface this, A is your usual web developer type--sometimes awkward, but mostly nice. Obsessed with all things Japanese)

A (whispers): Ashhhhhley...
Me: A, stop being creepy!
A: Then I have to stop being A (makes a said face). 
Me: haha! That was actually funny, A!

How I Met Your Mother, A Review

4.02.2014

Ugh, the finale...well I'll get to that at the end, hold tight (yes, this post will contain spoilers!).

I came to How I Met Your Mother late in the game, breezing through each season by way of Netflix marathons. I saw the evolution of the show quite clearly, and so I offer my humble thoughts...

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HIMYM is especially talented at both succeeding and sucking. There were moments where the show had such insightful epiphanies that I actually felt inspired, and then other moments where the plot was so ridiculous I had to roll my eyes. And that's the main issue I've always had with HIMYM: the characters easily teeter between charming and relatable to completely unbelievable.

But here's where HIMYM wins:

  • The characters are awkwardly funny, and I love that. Ted's nerd jokes are cute, and the use of colloquial phrases like "just...just...okay!" is so darn clever I wonder why other shows never figured to do the same. 
  • The past was frequently brought up. Other shows seem to treat life events as moments later forgotten, barely mentioning them as the seasons go on. HIMYM is more realistic in this realm. The characters bring up the past OFTEN, even ruminating at times. This is life, this is how we are. 
  • The long-running inside jokes make the show. The slap joke (lest we forget Slapsgiving) is genius. Lily's fascination with kissing Robin is mentioned throughout. Ted's architecture factoids are frequently added and laughed at. Oh, and the interventions are my favorite!

So, the finale. The series finale was a major letdown (MAJOR LETDOWN! *salutes*). The reason is three-fold:

1. We spent a lot of time growing attached to the mom in the last season, and explaining that she dies in a matter of 5 seconds--in between a mish-mosh of milestones and major events--was insensitive and infuriating.

2. Speaking of, the finale was so overplotted it sucked any emotional power out of said milestones (except for Barney's daughter's birth, since Neil Patrick Harris is a compelling actor).

3. It's hard to accept Robin and Ted ending up in the end because, honestly, the love connection there is weak. We already fully accepted that Robin and Ted were not meant to be...A LONG TIME AGO. To have all this build up to the mom (who is so freaking cute, and we don't get enough of), only to return to the tired Robin/Ted dynamic is ultimately a poor choice. Or at least, it was done poorly. Overall, there was too much focus on Barney and Robin, the wedding, and Ted moving on that I had a hard time being content with a blue french horn ending.

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Ultimately, the show went on for two many seasons. Had the series been shortened, the episodes fine-tuned, and some of the ridiculousness taken out, I would have thought more highly of HIMYM. Even still, it succeeds somehow in its imperfection. There's something adorable about this cast (who look real and not like supermodels, THANK GOD), and most notably, the iconic bar scene that kept the show plugging along. I'll cheers to that (with a glass of scotch, of course).

***
Other TV Show Reviews:

Favorite Thing Thursday

3.27.2014

Lately, a few of my favorite things (also because keeping a gratitude list is a good idea)...

1. Booking a Trip to London

photo from @london on instagram
Ticket bought, check! In July, I will be going back to London for graduation (we're also thinking of heading over to Austria a few days). This trip will be telling, emotional and fantastic all in one go. I'm excited and scurrrrred. I can't wait.


2. Breakdown + Therapy

I needed all of this to happen to start taking a deeper look into what I was feeling. Breakdowns/panic attacks/pain can lead to recovery. What's the quote from Eat, Pray, Love? Oh yes: "Ruin is the road to transformation." Thanks, Liz Gilbert.

3. Being a Self-Help Book Junkie



You know what...don't judge me!!!!!!!!! Because I'm an over-thinker, it's nice to have Dr. Phil train my mind toward the positive. And this book was recommended to me by a psychologist friend. Um yeah, sorry the picture is backward.

4. My Bad-Ass Breaking Bad T-Shirt


I'll end this post on a cheeky note. This was given to me by a friend and I feel instantly more bad-ass when I wear it. Heisenberg power!


Getting Better All the Time

3.23.2014

Oh, hey guys.

The last post went pretty deep; I needed it to. And you know what's really great about having a blog? I got some pretty great "I know what you're going through" e-mails from people, as well as a ton of supportive comments--it's always comforting to know I have some comrades.

Last week, I went to therapy for the first time. It was actually amazing! She helped pinpoint what was bothering me quite a bit about leaving London: that I felt like my most authentic version of Ashley there, making it hard to leave. Truth. What I liked about therapy is how the psychologist took the enormous amount of tangled thoughts in my head and restated it so I could hear what I was feeling--out loud. It made more sense that way.

What I can say about all of this--panic attacks, therapy, recovery--is that it's a process. I don't expect to be beamingly happy all the time. What I do is expect is an uncomfortable next few months to face truths about myself that maybe I've been avoiding, or unaware of. I am so ready for this. Another thing my therapist picked up on about me? She asked, "You really like challenges, don't you?" Oh yes, yes I do! And I'm also really good at getting help when I need it. I can give myself a gold star for that.

Lastly, it's not so easy sharing this with everyone. To be honest, it's opening up a very private part of myself to the whole internet. I mean...should I title this post, "A Trip Into Ashley's Psyche"? Although it's not easy sharing this, it's necessary. And considering the amount of e-mails I got from people going through the same, well, we're in this together! And I think it's time we talk about it:

We are NOT RIDICULOUS for loving travel, the expat life, and discovering different cultures. This is who we are. We are NOT RIDICULOUS for feeling anxious. This is how life is sometimes! I will not apologize for being me, and nor should you apologize for being you!

What I will work on is voicing how I feel instead of remaining silent. More often than not I find, it's getting better all time. 

Crossing Over

3.17.2014


I debated about whether I should post about this and ultimately decided that I wanted to share it with all of you. Maybe it can help someone. More likely, it's good for me to write it out.

I had a panic attack on Thursday. At work.

I've never gone through such a thing before, so when it was happening I didn't know what exactly was happening, other than I couldn't breathe, which made me feel even more frantic. Basically, my body was having a reaction to stress.

What caused the stress? Very simply: my own mind. When I don't have an immediate solution to something, I dwell on the problem. Then dwelling turns to catastrophizing.

The Real Issue

Independence has always been a big theme for me. I've been classified as the "strong" one many times in my life. I've taken pride in that. However, labels can cause more damage than good. While I was busy being the strong one, I was cheating myself out of the very necessary practice of being vulnerable.  Or rather, I failed to see that vulnerability = strength.

I haven't voiced enough--on here or in real life--how much I miss London, how I think about it everyday, and how I unhealthily compare it to San Diego. Every. Day. I've been needing to voice it, but I haven't. For fear of sounding like a broken record, or for fear of seeming too weak, I suppose. I wanted to move on to getting happier and feeling better, but failed to voice how I was really feeling.

So let me write this out once. How I really feel:

I am a woman who absolutely loved living abroad and is completely unsure if I made the right decision in coming home. I feel pressures from family to stay in my hometown. I also know I haven't given my hometown a proper chance since being back and am unsure how to do so. I want to learn how to appreciate life no matter where I am, but I can't shake the feeling that I was made to live in other places. I am stubborn and want to be perceived as having strength; while sometimes I am strong, I also have moments of incredible weakness. I am human. I don't like to admit that. I've been feeling sad, edging on depression for the last few months. I've been feeling stuck and suffocated. This all finally caught up with me, and so my body reacted to all the turmoil!

Whew!

The Real Solution

The good thing about panic attacks (there's a good thing?) is that it forces you to talk. I don't have a choice to hide my thoughts any longer. So I'm talking. And even looking into seeing a therapist if that will help me sort through my layers UPON layers of thoughts. I'm saying a prayer to the higher power.

I'll end on a high note: the other day, my friend pointed out that I always show him pictures of bridges, and that I "must really love them." You know what? I do. I love the idea of crossing over bodies of water (or anything with a death drop) and making it to the other side. Total faith must be put in the bridge--and the process of crossing the bridge--to get to the safe haven. No matter the dangers that are threatened (earthquakes, strong winds, typhoons), I will choose to cross anyway. I'm crossing now, knowing I have to put the legwork in being more open and more vulnerable. I choose to not let anxiety control my thoughts; I'm crossing over instead.

Funny enough, these pictures were taken the very day I had the panic attack (I had it earlier in the day). Funny how bad days always have the opportunity to turn around into something beautiful.




How do you deal with anxiety? Your tips and tricks would actually be very appreciated!

Breaking Bad, A Review

3.09.2014

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Where do I start? WHERE DO I START?

The best compliment I can give this show is this: I normally don't think shows are as well done as movies. Writers for shows tend to only write for the season, and so you will usually get a broken, haphazard storyline and a rushed ending. Breaking Bad, my friends, is the one exception. It's clear to see that the entire story--Walt's story--was thought of ahead of time.

I don't think I've ever been so fascinated by characters in a show. Walt’s transformation from an unsure, unassuming chemistry teacher into a narcissistic, power-hungry drug kingpin is simply fascinating. I remember times when I would HATE Walt, and then feel for him again, only to despise him once more.

And the ending. A show has never ended so perfectly.

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This show will keep you guessing. This show will make you a late-night TV watcher. This show will make you bite your nails. This show will make you think every run-down RV you pass has a meth lab inside. This show.

Some of my favorite parts (spoilers):

  • When Gus died...WHAT?!?!
  • Skyler and Walt's last scene, which was complete magic and made me cry. 
  • Jesse's redemption. 
  • When Hank found the Walt Whitman book (ahhhh!)
  • The symbolism of Walt putting the watch Jesse gave him on the phone booth. 
  • EVERYTHING. JUST EVERYTHING! 
Ok, so I think the characters of Lydia and Todd were a bit rushed, but it wasn't too much of a stretch; they were the only minor faults I found with BB. When I started watching BB, I thought to myself, "Was there ever a show before this?" And when it was over, I thought "What am I going to do now?" 

Breaking Bad will eternally reserve a place in my top 5. I've jumped on the bandwagon; so much so, I now have a BB t-shirt. Yep. If you haven't watched Breaking Bad, I suggest you head to Netflix straight away and start the pilot episode...just know that you will be a hermit for a good 3 weeks to a month!

***

Another Birthday Down...

3.05.2014

Over the weekend, I moved and I turned 29. Suffice to say, the last week or so has been busy. Blogging has majorly suffered (sorry!), but a lot of fun was had. 


Clockwise from left: With Rachel, one of my best friends since I was 19 (and I since I started this blog); I had a birthday brunch, hence the eggs; We may or may not have gone spirits tasting after brunch; Birthday sign complete with unicorns, from my bosses; Cheers to late twenties; With Theresa, a fellow traveler and wanderluster.

Things are settling down now and I'm looking to get back to normal blogging soon. And I just noticed that I was in such a rush to make that collage I didn't edit the bottom right photo properly. Argh! Time for a glass of wine...

Conversations with Male Coworkers, Vol. 2

2.26.2014

Working with all men has still proven to be a mighty interesting environment...

Me: Ew, Chili's is so gross. Did you know they microwave their food? 

J: Well then I want that microwave. 

***

Me: I was proud of myself because I got up on the first alarm today. Didn't hit snooze. Because when you hit snooze you think you're cheating the system, but you're only cheating yourself!
Z: Procrastination is like masturbation. In the end you're just screwing yourself. 
Me: That was...profound. 

***

J: That car is slammed and the tires are poking hard. 
Me: What?!?
J: The car is low and the tires are out further than the width of the car.
Me: Oh. What language were you speaking before? 


***

All the Men (conversation that seems to happen everyday): I get [x] mileage on my car...blah blah blah...turbo...blah blah blah...carbon fiber roof...BLAH BLAH BLAH. 
Me: I like trains!


...But seriously, are we going to talk about cars EVERY DAY?!?

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