Currently- August

General- Have I talked about the fact that I live in a dessert? Seriously, the past three weeks have had half of the week holding excessive heat warnings. Check on your dessert friends, they are burning up. This month has been very quiet around my house. We’re trying to stay home more and do more family time. We get plenty of family time, we are just trying to stay home while we do it. When we leave the house, we end up staying out way too long and spend money we didn’t intend to spend. Hubby and I have also been working on a lot of projects together. We made him a workstation in the garage (and reorganized that garage and go rid of SO MUCH STUFF) and he is building shelves. He made me a board so I can keep track of upcoming blog posts. I also made bible tabs for my bible and I’m in LOVE with them. They are so cute.

Reading– I’m still reading Bookish Boyfriends. I actually haven’t picked it back up since my trip to Washington. I started reading some business books and books along those lines. It is a struggle to read those too. It’s been a struggle to read lately. It makes my heart a little sad. 

Listening– I quit the Saving Quinton I started listening to. I just couldn’t get into it the way that I did the first book. I might look up what happens because I’m curious but I could not keep listening to it.  I listened to the first books in the Program series. That was very interesting and scary. It reminded me a lot of Uninvited by Sophie Jordan where the government is scared of something and doing whatever they can to prevent it but since they handle teenagers they don’t care what happens to them. Although, in the Program, the program that is supposed to cure depression isn’t ran by the government, just has a lot of power. They were good books. There are a lot more in the world of the program, different story lines and what not. I’m good with what I read (listened to.) 

I’ve been struggling with music lately. I feel like I’ve been listening to the same 20 songs and I need new ones. Tell me what your favorite song is lately! 

Watching– We cancelled Netflix in favor of Hulu Live (heck yes, sports!) so I am no longer watching West Wing or Criminal Minds. We just started watching Leah Remini’s series on Scientology and WOAH. Scientology was always a weird religion to me. A sci-fi writer wrote the textbooks for a religion? Really? And I’m supposed to believe he knew what he was talking about? I’ll stick with Jesus. We’ve also been watching a lot of Cats, the musical. My son loves it. 

Writing– Projects, presentations, blog posts and Instagram captions. I started an outline for my book. It was painful. Since I’m currently on a week long break from school, I am hoping to get caught up on the outline so I can set word count goals and really get working on this book. 

Other– The project I was going to announce has been announced AND LAUNCHED! I started a podcast called Hasta la Pasta where I will talk about all sorts of fun things. It will be an extension to my blog. The first episode is live now! You can listen on the website or on Spotify right now. (I’m waiting on approval for Apple & Google Play) 

Devotional Thursdays- Newness

Newness

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

The idea of new is amazing. As a society we get excited for the new iPhone or Samsung device. We use new as a marketing tool and companies everywhere are committing to the idea of new. We get new products and technology every year because they are so good at selling us “new”. Every season gets a new style of clothes. Every computer, phone, tablet, gets an upgraded device branded as new every year. There are even conventions for all the newness to be dropped. 

We never think about the old products because we’re too busy focused on the new. We upgrade and replace our things because new is cool. New is awesome. New is better. 

However, we only have that mindset when it comes to products. We might ignore the old products, even if they are still in great condition and can do all the things the new ones can, they are discarded like they never existed. We grab onto the new product and the old is gone. We do this with things. We hold people to a different standard. There is no such thing as new with people. There is no change. There are some people that can hold grudges for something that happened to them in high school. They’ve forgotten most of everything else about high school but this grudge is still holding a torch, living in their mind as if it just happened. We leave no room for improvement and growth with people. Our one perception, situation, incident with them will be what defines them for eternity. 

Imagine if God saw us the way we hold people to their past mistakes. He knows about our mistakes. He has walked through us in our mistakes. He forgives us though. Once we ask for forgiveness, the mistake is gone, as if it it never happened. (Hebrews 10:17). He chooses to not remember the mistakes we have made and instead allows us to be new. We are made new. 

Are you the same person you were in high school? I’m not. There are parts of me that are still the same. I’m loud, obnoxious and I’ll talk your ear off. On the other hand, I’m not as sarcastic. I’m not as mean as I used to be. I don’t look to tear people down or put myself above people. I don’t look for attention from boys. I am definitely a better student now than I was in high school. A lot of factors went into who I was in high school. My home life, situations, the people I surrounded myself with, all of these things; the good and bad, made me who I was. Since high school, I’ve lost friends and gained new ones. I’ve gained family, I’ve made colossal mistakes that I’ve had to climb myself out of. If someone I only knew in high school were to talk to one of my friends today, I bet they would describe completely different people, who have a few things in common. 

When you step into a relationship with Jesus, things start to change. You start to see the world through God’s eyes. I know I’ve changed, I’m still changing and growing. It’s part of the transformation Romans talks about. However, this transformation that is talked about in Romans, is the transformation God promised in Ezekiel. Transformation isn’t a new testament concept, it’s an old testament promise. 

Write it Out:

  • Think about yourself in high school and yourself today. List ways the you in high school would be described and list the ways you today would be described. 
  • What is different?
  • How else have you grown/changed? Sometimes our growth isn’t evident in characteristics, sometimes, it is in how we think.

Currently- May Edition

General- Last time I wrote this post I had said it was officially summer in Vegas. Vegas wanted to make me a liar because I don’t think we’ve seen 90 degrees in weeks. There has been a lot of wind and a lot of rain and low temps for this time of year. I am the last one to complain, I’ll take whatever that holds the heat off for a little bit longer. 

My son and I just got back from a trip to California to see family and go to Universal Studios. It was Little Man’s first trip there. We had so, so, so much fun. Take trips with your kids, even when they are little. Will he remember this trip? No idea. I will though and this memory makes my heart fill up to the top with joy. I will be writing a post all about our trip in the next week or so. We came home Sunday and spent Memorial Day getting ready for the week and hanging out with each other. Plus spending time with our animals. (They missed us while we were gone.) 

I recently got a Cricut and this device has changed my whole crafting world. I’ve always wanted one and I finally just bit the bullet and got the Explore One. I’ve been making things like crazy ever since. I made the shirts my son and I wore to Universal. I made my mother-in-law her mother’s day gifts. Plus I’m working on how to make my own journals because that has been a dream of mine for years. I’m super excited to see all the things I can make with it. (Shoutout to my friend who has been helping me navigate this sucker too!) 

Reading- I’ve put Windwitch on hold while I focus on reading Girl Wash Your Face. I was reading these books last month but I still haven’t finished. I’m working on re-working reading into my schedule. Now that I’m all caught up on Gray’s Anatomy I don’t need to binge watch as much. On my trip I listened to audiobooks. So I just finished “White Hot Kiss” by Jennifer L Armentrout. It’s a series about a girl who is part warden / part demon. Very interesting, slightly steamy (if you are into that sort of thing.), and overall a great story. I’m halfway through the second book, Stone Cold Touch right now. I’ll probably keep listening while I drive to work and things. It isn’t as easy for me to listen to audiobooks at home.

Watching- I literally just finished watching the Captain Underpants movie with Little Man. He’s been asking a lot lately to watch things with me so I try to say yes when I can. Tonight after dinner we watched the movie before getting ready for bed. I’m also watching Designated Survivor on Netflix. This is the show I am binging now. Season three will drop on Netflix soon so I’ll be busy with this show for a minute. It is very intense and every time you think you know what to expect or you think you finally get what is happening, another twist gets thrown in and makes my heart race. It is SO GOOD. 

Other– I am officially on week four of this term which means I am almost halfway to the end of term! This term is rocky for me. I have one class that makes me want to rip my eyeballs out when I work on the coursework. The other class I am taking is Mythology and that has my interest like nobody’s business. I’ve always been interested in mythology, mainly greek mythology. We’re going over greek mythology along with other cultures. I just did some reading about the Hindu goddess of death and she is quite interesting. It is also sparking ideas for me for one of my writing projects so that is super helpful. 

Writing- Speaking of writing, my book is officially published and I am now having to ask myself what is next. I am brainstorming some journaling plan ideas. I’ve also decided to go back to a writing project that I’ve technically been working on for six years. I currently have 20,000-ish words. I’m about to start editing it and maybe even doing an outline and I am solely focused on this writing project outside of journaling things. When I started this project six years ago I had big plot plans and just never found the time to write. Now that I’m in a better habit of writing, I want to finish this project and do all the plot things. The main characters won’t leave me alone and now feels like the time for this project. It’s a YA novel, if you are wondering what type of project it is. It will be completely different than the journaling devotional I just published. However, I don’t know if I will be publishing this project. I am writing it for me, because the characters are stuck in my head and I want to finish it. The cool thing about writing is that you don’t have to publish everything you write. 

So what about you? What are you reading and watching and doing in general every day life?

Easter

I love the holidays. I even get excited over National Pet day. I make a big deal out of holidays, I have traditions for all of them. We always pull out Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving and spend the morning decorating the house. Since that day is also Black Friday, we wait till the afternoon to leave the house and brave the stores to pick out a new ornament for the tree. Each year it is someone’s turn to pick the ornament and they get to pick whatever they want. (It’s my turn this year- my first year, we got a French fry ornament.) For Halloween, I try very hard to come up with cute family costumes but my husband won’t go for the Fairly Oddparents. Halloween also sneaks up on me and I’ll be a week out without a costume for anybody. Maybe this year will be the first year I get ahead of that ballgame.

Easter is an odd holiday for me. I love Easter and I love everything Easter is about. Easter reminds me of the simplicity of my salvation and makes me grateful. The sacrifice wasn’t simple but it’s a simple fact because Jesus sacrificed himself, I’m saved. However, I never know what to do for the holiday. Every year has been different. We don’t really have traditions when it comes to Easter. I don’t even remember what traditions we had when I was a kid. I remember egg hunts in the backyard. I have also found photographic evidence of really tight ponytails, dresses and an Easter bunny in an old photo. That tells me that things happened as a kid, I just don’t remember a lot of pomp and circumstance around it.

I’m a traditions person. I like having traditions and knowing what to expect for each holiday. This year, for Easter I was going to plan a semi-big deal and have an Easter party and invite everybody and their mother over. It was a solid plan. It was also a plan I never started putting to paper. Now, I am writing a blog post that I planned a month ago for this weekend because I was supposed to have all the Easter plans.

Easter has sprung up on me. Instead of scrambling to try and make the most perfect Easter I have ever seen, I think I’m gonna wing it. I’m going to check out the Easter events happening around my city and see what one I think my son will have the most fun at. Maybe we won’t even leave the house on Easter. Anything is possible. The one thing I know I won’t be doing is stressing about the things I need to do. In fact, deciding to wing it just took a thing off my to-do list.

One thing we’ll for sure have is an easter egg hunt. Before we started the no spending challenge, I got some easter stuff, like plastic eggs so he could have an easter egg hunt in our backyard. I’m going to celebrate that we have a backyard to have egg hunts in.

Happy Easter everybody! Tell me about your plans! I’ll fill you in on what we decided to do later.

STOP!

Let’s just dive into this one, shall we? Last week I talked about being content and how I believe real happiness lies in being content. One of the ways you can learn to be content in your circumstances is to stop doing the things that make you miserable! I mentioned it a little bit in the last post but I am diving into this more today.

What do I mean by stop doing the things that make you miserable? Exactly that. I mean it verbatim, STOP doing the things that make you miserable. I already know some of you reading this might be thinking, “yeah, Ashleigh, it isn’t that simple.” You could already be rolling your eyes and think that I clearly live in a fantasy land where unicorns prance around if I can say something like that.

I don’t live with unicorns but I do believe it is that simple. Quit the things that make you miserable. Quit allowing the things that make you miserable enter your life. I think we are too busy getting caught up in expectations that don’t matter and that is what makes us feel like we cannot stop doing the things that make us miserable. What kind of expectations? Expectations we put on ourselves based on what we think others will think. Expectations placed on us by other people. For me, a lot of my expectations of myself come from my inner critic which ends up repeating the same lies that I heard as a kid. Let me repeat that, my expectations come from lies I heard as a kid. I kept saying yes to everything asked of me, even if I was drowning in my to-do list because I thought that people only loved me because of what I could do. I expected myself to do all the things possible. If I did all the things, all the people would love me. This idea the people only loved me because I was the yes girl, was a lie. A huge lie. A lie that I still struggle with today and I am fully aware it is a lie. A lie that was making me miserable. I was saying yes to things that I had no business doing. I was saying yes to things because a need was brought to my attention. It wasn’t even my need to address or a need I could fix but there I was, trying to meet it when I should have stayed in my lane. My saying yes to everything probably hurt other people too. The people those yeses were meant for. How is someone going to step up if I’m stepping up for them? I think quickly, I can make plans quickly, I might have been saying yes to a thing meant for someone else, that person just needed a minute to get to the yes and I was already saying yes before the complete problem was presented. Just because I think fast and I feel like silence is the enemy, doesn’t mean I should have opened my mouth. Silence can be a good thing. Silence is where people can grow. Silence is where I am learning to grow. I am learning to be okay with silence and allow silence to work on other people.

Everything in our lives are choices we make. There is nothing in our lives that we HAVE to do or say yes to. Wait, we have to sleep, breathe, eat and drink water. Those are the ONLY things you absolutely have to do. Mainly because these things are proven to keep you alive. Outside of that, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to keep the friend who is constantly putting you down. You don’t even have to stay in contact with the family that only has negative things to say about you. The key to this is your “why.” Why do you hang out with this person that only can say negative things about you and everything else in life? Is that person bringing joy to your life? Is this person there for you when you need? Or have you been friends with this person for so long that you don’t think you could stop? Is this an obligation? If you have an obligation that is sucking your soul dry and you constantly wish you could get out of it, stop saying yes to it.

This also goes for your job. If your job makes you miserable, stresses you out to unhealthy levels, the people are awful, whatever it is that makes you hate your job- get out! Why are you staying there? It is 2019, and money is a valid reason but I don’t believe it is a good reason to work a job that you are miserable at. There are other jobs that you can do to make money. You can probably start your own business out of something you are passionate about. There is no job that is easy, you will have to work hard, it just depends on who is benefiting from your work.

The problem with being miserable is that you are not only affecting you. Everybody and everything around you is feeling your misery in some way. If you are working in customer service and you hate your job, every customer will be able to tell by your body language, your attitude and how you speak about your job. I went to a furniture store once to get dining room chairs, the salesman helping us didn’t say a single nice thing about the company he worked for. He messed up our order multiple times and was constantly saying bad things about this place. He had an awful attitude. I wanted to say forget the chairs and leave because it wasn’t worth the environment we were in at that time, plus we were at the store until after closing because of the mistakes that were made. He clearly hated his job and didn’t care about it. His lack of caring wasn’t affecting him, it was affecting me and my family as we tried to buy something. By the time I said we should just forget the chairs, the order was already placed and “we were almost done” (we weren’t). I decided to tough it out and I toughed it out for an hour after that. Now, we are never going back to that store again because of the awful experience we had with that salesman. In a lot of cases, when you are at your job and you are dealing with the public or people in general, you will be the face for your company, your department or your job. Everything about your job, department or company will be judged by you. Are you the face that should be that sort of representation? If you hate your job, probably not. Just think, if you are at a job that makes you miserable, you probably don’t stop being miserable the second you are off. You most likely carry that misery with you to whatever is next.

It took me a long time to realize this but it is okay to say no. It is okay to decide something else is more important to you than whatever might be being asked by someone else. Saying yes to something is a no to something else. If you are always wondering why you can’t seem to do the things you enjoy, take a look at where all your yeses are and where the yes to yourself lies. If you put yourself last, others will too. We worry about the habits we might be showing our kids and that is important. We also need to be looking at how we treat ourselves. Your treatment of yourself will be the standard others will see in how to treat you. If you are constantly tearing yourself down, what tells others that it isn’t okay to do it too?

This is getting to be really long and I probably need to get off of my soapbox. I just wanted to share some thoughts on this. Life is about balance, not everything is going to make us happy or as Marie Kondo puts it- spark joy. However, we have the choice and the power to say no to things that make us absolutely miserable. Life is too short to be miserable all the time. The kids who are seeking to live their best life might be onto something.