I feel like my life has be going 100 mph recently. During these fast-paced times in my life, I easily forget to stop and reflect on the many blessings in my life. The past few months have been crazy, stressful, chaotic, and life stretching; however I have learned so much, became a stronger person, and learned the importance of community and to say “no”. So why not share what has happened each month since July and what I learned during those months. If you are in a phase that is in a lot of uncertainty or change, I highly recommend reading this.
In July I made a big decision to quit teaching high school Business and to go full time with blogging. It was a scary step for both Michael and I because we new it would be a risk, but isn’t that how every good thing works? The Lord provides us with the greatest opportunities and typically those opportunities require our trust in Him and to remember that He is ultimately in control. Going full time was the best decision I made! It has been some of the most stressful, busiest, and life changing months in my life, but all of these experiences and lesson made me stronger, more cultured, more brave, and most importantly they have brought me closer to Jesus.
What I learned in July: Let God open and close the doors instead of me trying to. God puts things on your heart for a reason and sometimes you have to put all other opinions and societal norms aside and listen to HIM.
In August I did my first travel collaboration with my sister in law, Libby, (@faithfullyfitarmy) to Colorado. We had the best time hiking, site seeing, trying out fun restaurants, and spent some quality time together. I learned more about the hard work that goes into travel blogging and I learned that is doesn’t matter how many followers you have to get a hotel collaboration. If you are a blogger under 20K who wants to get a hotel collaboration, my word of advice is to GO FOR IT! This whole trip started after I told Libby about a women I heard through Julie Solomon’s Pitch it Perfect course land a travel collab when she had less than 10K followers. I don’t even think it was less than 24 hours after I told Libby this that I got a message from her saying that she reached out to a new boutique hotel in Colorado about collaborating and they said yes!
This trip was more than just a work trip, it was also a time to spend some quality time with Libby because I knew at the time that her and her husband (my brother) were moving back to her hometown in Virginia. It was very hard at first, but I knew that it was the right and best thing for them. I literally cry as I am writing this because this is a time where God challenged me to have selfless love. A love that isn’t selfish, because deep down I wanted them both to stay in Indiana. I learned to set aside my own desires and to show nothing but love, joy, and support for them.
What I learned in August: Love is not selfish, is it selfless.
September was probably one of the craziest months in my LIFE. I traveled to New York for NYFW and 5 days later went on a 12 day trip to Paris and Barcelona for Paris Fashion Week with my friend Josie. I learned so much and made good friends at NYFW. There are people on the outside I am sure that think that bloggers come across fake and it is just a giant setup, but after spending some quality time with some of the most amazing women that week – I can easily shut down those lies. No one can take away the memories and REAL conversations I had with the girls I met that week. Every single girl I met was even better in person and made me feel at home. I am beyond thankful for being apart of such a supportive and loving community. I also learned from NYFW that you have to WORK YOUR BUTT OFF for it. I spent hours every pitching to over a hundred companies and brands to set up meetings, get into shows, and to get into events. I also learned about rejection. For every ten companies I reached out to, I would get one yes. Some were hard to accept the “No”, but the “Yes’s” by far trumped the no’s. I was so fortunate to have gone with Karina, from @karinastylediaries . Karina was such an amazing roomie, she has been such a good friend to me ever since I started blogging. I am so thankful for her and she is one of the bravest, strongest woman I know! We both got into all of the same events which was amazing!
What I learned from NYFW: Community over competition, ALWAYS. Blogging requires you to get your big girl pants on and to not be afraid of rejection. Hard work pays off!
SEPTEMBER: PARIS AND BARCELONA
Five days after I landed home from New York, I boarded a plane to Europe with my friend Josie (@josie_sanders). We had only known each other for a few months before booking this trip. Josie and I met in the Spring at an event and then maybe saw each other 1 other time before she called me and asked if I would want to go to Europe with her in a month. I immediately said YES! It sounds crazy, but it was the best decision I made!
I have NEVER flown overseas and the only place I have been out of country was to Haiti for a mission trip. I am going to be real here for a second, I was TERRIFIED to go over seas. I have seen so many bad things happen in the news, the stories about excessive pick pocketing, and I was terrified I would get homesick. I woke up with night terrors during those five days at home and had panic attacks. Not very many people know this, I don’t even think Josie does haha. I laugh because none of those things happened while I was in Europe.
I also want to note that traveled with the most amazing, smart, and cautious girl in the world! I swear Josie is my long lost sister. We have the same appetite, love the same foods, think the same way, and we even wear the same size shoe (A person who wears a size 10 is hard to come by). She is also insanely creative and is just as in love with blogging, adventure, and food as I am. I feel like God was protecting those awful nerves I had before the trip with Josie. I never felt unsafe and I never got homesick. (Ok well the flight home I did haha). Each day we would say we would go to bed at 10 PM, but we would somehow stay up until 2 am just talking about life and watch soap cutting videos (Look it up on Instagram, it’s a thing). During this trip I learned how much of a bubble I lived in America. I LOVED learned more about the culture in Paris and Barcelona. I loved being the minority. I learned so much about the world during that trip and I learned just how small I really was.
What I learned from my Europe trip: Don’t ever make a decision based out of fear. Get out there and immerse yourself in other cultures, friendship doesn’t have to have a long-line of history attached to it. Sometimes the best friendships are the ones that spontaneously happen.
October was the month of REST and REFOCUS. I still traveled to Chicago and to Texas during this month, but I spent time refocusing on what I wanted the purpose of my blog to be. I learned what works and what doesn’t work for me, I learned more about my followers, what they liked, what they didn’t like. I said no to events and spent my days in my PJ’s working with no makeup or hair done. I relaxed, and it was GOOD. I felt normal.
During the third week of October Michael and I went to Texas to attend the Silobration at the Magnolia Silos hosted by Chip and Joanna Gaines. For those of you who don’y know, I am a BIG Joanna fan. I have always been a fan of her show since it started, but I am even more a fan of who she is as a wife, business woman, creator, mom, and daughter in Christ. Her book, “A Magnolia Story” is one of the few “nudges” that made me want to pursue blogging more seriously. I had already been to the Silos a few times, but this was my first Silobration. The Silobration happens twice a year to get the community together to celebrate the anniversary of the Silos. The Gaines’ family always attends and this year my two favorite bands JohnnySwim and Drew Holcomb sang. There are also dozens of boutiques, shops from all over the country that are in tents lined up and down the streets. All are hand picked by Joanna.
When I first arrived I was on a mission to get a picture in the main entrance, during this I had a girl come up to me to say hello and that she had been waiting for me. This girl’s name was Taylor and her mom was with her too. Taylor told me that she had just started blogging (@thetayloredlifeblog) . She is so personable and I immediately felt like she was my friend. Her style is beautiful just like her personality, and her husband and Mike really kicked it off! Turns out they had a few mutual friends! What I didn’t know is that she was actually Chip Gaines’ niece and her mom was his sister. I also had the pleasure of meeting Chip’s mom. Taylor, her mom, and grandma took me around showing me their favorite shops and introduced me to Ginger from @gigipip and the owners of @roolee. Can I tell you that I am so so thankful for getting to know them? I felt so loved by them that day and I hope to see them again soon!
After spending the day shopping, Michael and I attended the concert. It was AMAZING! The entire show felt so intimate and real. I will never forget this night. Thank you Michael for giving me the best birthday gift!
What I learned during October: Rest, reflection, and refocus are GOOD. It is healthy to step away for a second so that you can go all in when it counts. Sometimes the biggest blessings can happen during the restful seasons in life.
November was the month of putting my blogging into high gear and getting down to business. The holiday season is prime time in the blogging world. I started researching, putting up more blog posts, working on my email list, and stared to put out workout plans on my blog. I pitched to dozens of companies and started to find a routine in my daily schedule. I started to stand up for myself, my brand, and all of the hard work I put into my business. I started to prioritize, think 10 steps ahead, and to actually be on time to things. I *got better* at keeping the house clean and started working on designing my home office. Taking October off gave me the energy and motivation I needed.
During Thanksgiving my family and I took a vacation to my parent’s second home in Florida. It was so nice to get away and to spend QT with them. This has been quite the year for my family and I cherish every memory I spend with them. Naples has always been a second home to me and always eases my stress. This was the first vacation my family took together in almost a decade!
On another note, I am so thankful for all of the amazing brands I work with and all of the people who follow and support my blog. I AM BLESSED! I sometimes will go into tears because I think to myself how in the world do I get the opportunity to work with the brands I do and read all of the amazing messages from you guys. The fact that you all believe in me is enough to break me into tears. I am beyond thankful for every message, every email, every text, every story I get with you trying my workouts or recipes. Guys I don’t deserve any of this.
What I learned in November: Take time to learn and research – there is always something new to learn, finds ways to stay organized – it makes life so much easier, never underestimate your blessings – Don’t make the blessings be the source of your joy, but don’t ever be a blessing blocker – (@jordanleedooley told me about blessing blockers and it is life changing) I also learned that I deserve NOTHING. Everything is a gift.
And then here we are, December. I cannot believe the holidays are here and a new year is a few weeks away. I am excited to take on the new year and try to reach new goals. In the meantime I wish everyone reading this to relax and enjoy the holidays and to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!
Ashley, you amaze me! You are so talented and beautiful, both outside and inside! I am so proud of you and love reading about your adventures! Keep up the excellent work! Know your limits and continue to put yourself and your families needs first. Can’t wait to read and see pics of your next adventures!!!
Thank you megan! This means so much to me!!
This post is probably one of my favorite blog posts you’ve written!!! There’s so much that you wrote about here that I struggle with and you totally bring hope in more ways than I can tell you! You are doing amazing things and I am so excited to see where you are headed! Much bigger things coming for you Ashley!
Wendy! This means so much to me! Thank you babe!
How tall are you? Just to help with sizing. Thanks!
I am 5’11”!
Thank you so much for sharing this! Your journey to this day truly sounds amazing. I know Julie and regularly listen her podcast. I didn’t know Jorden and love her podcast to! Have you heard about The Life Changer Podcast by Griffin Sterling? If not you should definitely check it out! It’s specifically for fitness coaches and I believe it would be really helpful for your success journey.
aww thank you so much Mio! That means so much and I will definitely listen to Griffin Sterling’s podcast!