My Gratitude Post

Hey, I'm Ashley. 

Believe it or not, this is a recent pic. I just felt like buying a college sweatshirt. I'm the nostalgic type :) 

I grew up in San Diego and went to San Diego State for my undergrad. It's a pretty damn delightful place to grow up. Did you know it's actually dubbed "America's Finest City?"

I'm pretty grateful I grew up somewhere so pretty, friendly, and culturally diverse. I have two loving parents that raised me here. All of this set the foundation for who Ashley is.

One of my fave traveling photos! 
I caught the travel bug so very young. My first trip out of the country was to Turkey at 7 years old. Ever since then I had an intense hunger to travel as much as possible, which continues on today. I'm grateful I'm the "always hungry" kind of girl. I can say with confidence that will never change. I plan to be 55 and still traveling away. Just watch. (I've been to 17 countries and counting!).


That travel bug got me to move out of San Diego, twice. Once to London, and also to my current home, NYC. I'm grateful I have this awesome list of places I've lived: California, the UK, and the Big Apple.

Just looking at this on paper, I'm proud of myself.  I'm proud for making big moves despite fear. I'm grateful I have the opportunities to make said moves.


I worked hard to get a job that caters to my "always hungry" personality. It's the most challenging and rewarding job I have EVER had.

It also allows me to work remotely certain times of the year. This means I am working from San Diego right now, even though my home is technically NYC. I loathe going to the same office everyday, so this is honestly the PERFECT job for me! It's busy and hectic at times, but I'm doing something I BELIEVE IN. I would have it no other way.


Lastly, I'm so grateful for people. I have not only family, but friends that REALLY love me. We get into arguments and disagreements at times, because these are real relationships. I live far away from some of very best friends, yet we stay in touch. We forgive each other time and time again for being imperfect and stupid humans.

THIS IS LOVE, and I HAVE IT IN MY LIFE. I could not be more grateful for this!


I wanted to create this post because I feel like I look too often at what I don't have. That "always hungry" personality is a double-edged sword sometimes. Writing down all the things I DO HAVE truly brings a smile to my face and provides proof I have a kick ass life. I've accomplished a lot in 31 years, and there's much more to come.

How beautiful of a thought is it that you can choose to wake up any given day and build the life you want? You can move around cities, experiences, and jobs just like chess pieces. YOU have the power. 

I'm grateful for these things, people, and places that make me who I am. I'm grateful for this beating heart, these lungs, this brain that continues to function. I'm so, so, very thankful for life.


The Cnnekt

I told ya I was writing more! Did this little piece for my buddy, Chary. She started the website/idea/company called The Cnnekt. It's a place for women to come together in this big, bold, crazy, MASSIVE city. It's an excellent idea, and I'm glad to contribute. (related to my last post, Chary's a total doer).

I'm pretty sure she'd like to see the Cnnekt eventually expand to other cities! Because women need other women, period.


Do You Surround Yourself with Doers?

My cousin (pictured above with me) is a person who I would consider a doer. By doer, I mean someone who has a list of things he/she really wants done in life which he/she actually ends up doing. It can be as small as wanting a picture on an NYC stoop (evidence above), or can be as big as writing a best-selling book in Turkey.

My cousin is the reason I ever left San Diego in the first place. She's 5 years older than me, so I was able to follow her career before I ever started mine. She worked in fashion, wrote an Italian-to-Turkish dictionary, lived in Italy for a year, and recently wrote the aforementioned best-selling book. To say my cousin is an inspiration is an understatement. She was the first person I ever knew to do bigger things than just staying in a complacent job and living the status quo life.

When I applied for grad school in London, I knew I could do it because she had done big things, too. Same goes for any big event in my life. Recently, she visited NYC and we had many great talks in where I left feeling uplifted.

This is because doers uplift doers.

Once you realize you are someone who has a HUGE bucket list, and a short amount of time on earth to complete said bucket list, there's really no second to waste! Furthermore, there's no room for people I'd like to call stallers. These are people who have excuses for not doing the things they dream of. These people often say "well that's just the way the world works." They think one bad experience equates to life being bad, i.e. "I've had my heart broken, thus, love doesn't exist." They stall their dreams thinking it's too much work and not realistic.

I know a few stallers here and there, and while I won't cut them out completely, I've decided to really limit the amount of time I spend with them. That time can better be spent crafting grand ideas I intend to put into motion. That time is better spent with my doers. Frankly, we've just got too much to do.

P.S. I've already started limiting time with those stallers, and putting time into being with doers and doing more, and guess what? I've been writing up a storm! When I start to make time for the things I love and people that inspire me, one of my greatest loves comes back to me--WRITING! 


Big Fat (Turkish) Wedding

Let's dive into some Turkish posts, shall we?

Honestly, Turkey is so misunderstood, but I'll write about that another time. This is the time for happier things: my beautiful cousin's wedding.

Begüm (my cousin) and I realized we were liked-minded early on. We commend each other on thinking outside the box and being damn proud of it. Plus, she's always been such an inspiration to me--she's about to release an English version of her best-selling book in Turkey. Retitled in English, it's called "Simple" -- a book on the simple life. I'll let you all know when that English version drops.

Beyond celebrating my cousin, I wanted to show you all a side of Istanbul you possibly didn't know about. A fashionable place. A hip place. One that makes me smile real big with how warm and beautiful it is. My first travel love.

So onto some more pictures of the wedding venue and wedding in general:

Honestly, this is one of the best days I can remember! Congrats to Begüm and Ozan!

P.S. Here's the wedding video for those that are really curious:



Reemergence of Self:

When your personality and heart come shining through again after a rough patch. When that spark behind your eyes turns into a fire. When the strength floods back into your veins, pumping ferociously, jolting you out of bed. When you wake up in the morning and you smile. All because you know this life is yours to create--this life is YOURS, period. 


What a difference a week makes! When you mindfully and purposefully take a week off from thinking of other people and make YOURSELF the priority, it's interesting how your view of the world completely changes. 

I've been very reflective this week about everything: life, that guy, my tears, my right to have those tears, and how to become myself again. Even in one week's time, I feel a LOT like the old Ashley. She was lying dormant for far too long, and she's having a fucking parade celebrating the Reemergence of Self. 

I know I still have work to do, but it's funny how taking the first step toward loving myself has made all the difference.  


Quote of the Day

Obviously I'm in a self-reflective, sharing, creative mood! And so, this quote to inspire your lovely minds on a Friday:


Saying Goodbye, Wine, and Michelle Branch

I've been replaying Michelle Branch's "Goodbye to You" today. The reason is threefold:

1. I love her. Can she please make more music? And no more country crossover, Michelle!!!
2. "Goodbye to You" was an unusually good song for the time, and for such a young artist. It's classic.
3. I told the guy from this post that I needed some major space and we're not to see each other until I give the go ahead.

Letting go, indefinitely, of someone you really care for is heart-wrenching. Despite romantic feelings, he is a best friend, a confidant, a trusted 'NY family' member. But what's more important than all of that is my emotional well-being. Since I wrote the above post, I tried to keep him in my life, but change my outlook on him.

That failed.

And that's because I'm human. You can attempt to outsmart your feelings, but your feelings are not tied to your brain, they are tied to something much more primal. I knew I needed space, but tried to hold on. I had given too much of myself to him over a year. Thus, I began to become quite angsty. I was taking my anger out on the people around me that had nothing to do with the situation. I was pushing people away. I was becoming a nuisance.

Once I realized this, I started to profusely apologize to those around me. I cried and said sorry and made amends. And finally, today, I made the one change that was needed--I said goodbye (for now). I'm not sure how long goodbye is, but I needed to say it.

In the last argument I had with this guy, as I looked up at him with tear soaked eyes, he said in frustration to me "You're going to get mad at me for saying this, but you're young." He meant that I was naive. I realized at that moment he didn't understand my pain, but finally, I didn't need him to. The thing is, we all become a little young when we're really hurt, when we really love, when we really feel. We become more in tune with our inner child. I'll take young over being jaded, which is his outlook on life.

So as I sit here, drinking my wine, listening to Michelle, I carry on with the knowledge that I gave it my all. My whole heart was in it--my young, extremely loving, forgiving heart. I do believe I'll see him again. When I do, I'll have regained my strength because I chose to use my very loving heart to love me instead.


It's Time to Make Time

You may have noticed I haven't been around much.

That's all because I'm moving house, my personal life feels in disarray, and I have lots of worries about Turkey (I'll blog about this later). All of this has been STRESSING ME OUT LIKE NO OTHER. Of course, it's silly of me not to blog during this time, because writing out my obsessive thoughts most definitely de-stresses me. So, how frustrating that I've hardly had any time to do the one thing that can actually help!

The truth is, I need to make the time. Allowing surmounting thoughts to take over my mind, without utilizing my my best tool for unloading them is just plain stupid, for lack of a better word.

I mustn't forget my writer's soul. I mustn't forget to use my best weapon, the pen. 

So let me write out some calming things to help my over-analytical, CRAZY brain calm down (maybe they can help you too if you're feeling the same).

1. I am loved. I must stop taking things personally and let jealousy and frustration go. Since I am super stressed at this time, my relationships are suffering a tad, but they will be okay. It's fine that I'm not an easy breezy girl at the moment. There's always so much pressure to be the "fun girl." Well you know what? I'm the STRESSED GIRL right now, and it's fine. No one is going to leave me because of it.

2. Everything is working out fine. I might think I know what is going to happen in the future (which always seems to have some disastrous, fiery end), but I don't know. I'm not a fortune teller. I must let go of my need to control situations, and just let them be. Things have worked out fine thus far; and actually, they are working out better than fine, so why do I default to the negative when thinking about the future?

3. I am strong. But seriously, I am one STRONG bad ass lady who takes care of her friends, gets her work done (well), and looks pretty cute while doing it. I need to start taking care of myself, though, because that has been slipping by the wayside.

Okay...and BREAAAAATHE. It's time to make time for me, because this little life is more than just *a little* valuable.

Question to you: What have you been doing to de-stress? Have you been taking the proper time for yourself? Has anxiety been taking over your life of late? 


What's Happenin' (June and July)?

1. The month of June was really good for me. A major thinking month. A major growing month. A big part of that had to do with #2 on this list.

2. Going to Turkey was the best thing for my soul in a very long time. It had been 5 years since I was in Turkey. My trip was nothing short of magical. I remembered all the things I love about the country that introduced me to travel. I felt at ease and in my element once again. There's something about Turkey that seeps into the veins, the best kind of drug. Being in Turkey made me realize that London is not the only place I can love this much. Thus, going to Turkey has helped me embrace NYC in ways I was unable to before. I feel 100% ready now to do some LIVING.

I will write a post about the attacks and my time in Turkey later, but for now, I wanted to just talk about how it is the center of my heart. Turkey, thanks for saving me, yet again.

3. July will be a month to have some summer fun in NYC, arguably the best season in the citayyyyy. I have some fun plans revolving around picnics, concerts, boat rides, possible weekend trips to a nearby beach, and just general embracing of life. Being in the sun, breathing deep, drinking coffee--basically all the best stuff.

4. Music is a big part of me. I went to a free Blink 182 concert presented by Good Morning America:

With David at the Blink concert at 7am. Nostalgia is worth the early wake up time. 

I've also been digging these artists lately:

Grace: an Amy Winehouse reincarnate. Only 19. Has some growing to do but she's pretty damn good as is. Oh, and she's Aussie, so her cute accent comes through sometimes. 

Years & Years: Electronica group from London. Smooth dance music with catchy-as-all-hell hooks. CAN'T STOP LISTENING. 


That's the gist of what's been going on around here. What's been going on with you?!? 


Berlin: A Heavy Past Turned Into a Resilient City

I haven't posted in an exact month, oops! My parents visited NYC, and then I went to Turkey, and then LIFE. But I can tell you that things are going REALLLLLLY WELLLLL, despite everything moving so fast.

Sooooo...I went Berlin over a month ago, and it finally deserves a post.

*Post on Berlin Commencing*

Berlin is an interesting, sort of cold, sort of ugly-duckling-turned-into-beautiful, sort of hip, kind of place. I would describe it as a lot of "sort ofs." Obviously you all know the past of Berlin, so let's skip the history lesson. What is very true today is although the Wall has been torn down, there's still a huge difference between the look and feel of West Berlin vs. East Berlin.

Some examples of East Berlin, once ruled by the Soviets:

I like to call the above photo "the propaganda building." It's got a militaristic feel, and that's not surprising! Lot's of art, quirky cafes, and concrete-buildings-turned-into-new-flats litter the city. It's amazing what people can create out of sadness; yet, how what they create is still very influenced by the sadness. I was mesmerized by East Berlin!

On the other hand, you have West Berlin, once ruled the by the U.S.:

It's pretty! And very European, no?

The difference between the two sides is STRIKING. This makes Berlin one of the most interesting cities I have visited! Despite feeling the heaviness of the past, the residents have made Berlin something to be proud of, something that is a true phoenix.

Just look at the pictures! This is a special place:

 This is Checkpoint Charlie (border between East and West Berlin), by the way. I wasn't gonna take this photo, but homeboy on the right grabbed me, stuck a Soviet Hat on me, and had me pose. Oh goodness...

 Above: A Beer Garden in Tiergarten. Yeah, it rhymes :) It was a little cold the day we went, but I imagine this place is BANGING in the summer. Below: GERMAN DESSERTS, YUMMMMM.

 And the parks in Berlin, splendidly green! 

I've been told that Berlin is very different from the rest of Germany, and that makes sense. I have yet to see the rest of Germany (one day!).

However, in Berlin the beer is grand, the sites are super interesting, and the history is still very alive in the city. I love that humans can learn from the most dismal of times, and something utterly gorgeous can still come from it. Berlin is not gorgeous in a traditional sense. It's gorgeous in it's resilience. 
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