Don’t change, I like you just the way you are.

“Don’t change, I like you just the way you are.”

Please don’t tell me I was the only child exposed to this dad-joke classic. You know the one I’m talking about; the one where you agree to run an errand or do some chore with your dad and you “just need to change real quick.”

Equally swiftly, almost as if it is second nature, your dad goes: “don’t change, I like you just the way you are.” At least my dad did/does. โค๏ธ

Life is changing, kind of rapidly. It happens that way, I guess. It seems like nothing is changing and everything is boring; and then one day, every thing has snapped out of place, jumped ahead in line, or just disappeared. To be honest, I don’t like change.

Now that the cat is out of the bag and all the proper parties have been informed, I am anxiously announcing that I have accepted a new job. I wasn’t really looking for a new job, and I honestly didn’t think I would accept a new job, but I know in my heart it’s the right thing to do. It is an opportunity that I can’t afford to pass up – and I know I’ll be happier for this decision. I just need to stop having panic attacks about it in the meantime. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I mean… I figured I would change jobs SOMEDAY, but I didn’t know it would be so soon. This is my last week at my current job, which I have held for almost four years. I am leaving my first “big girl” job. The semi-sacred place that has challenged me to grow, and mature, and toughen up. And truth be told: I am terrified.

“Don’t change, I like you just the way you are” is running on repeat in my head.

But here’s the truth, I don’t like it just the way it is. It has been a fine job, a good job even. I have learned so much and I have become so much more confident. But what is disguising itself as “liking just the way it is” in my panicked state is:

  • Liking the comfort of expectation. I know what to expect from my claimants, my fellow teammates, my coworkers, and my boss. I know how to expect it to be conveyed; and more importantly, how to interpret it. I know that frustration at the situation isn’t frustration at me (sometimes). I know snappy tones is just the name of the game. I have learned to expect those tones and the constant urgency that claimants feel they entitled.
  • Appreciating the comfort of living through “worst case scenario”. There is something so profound – and somewhat freeing – about knowing what the worst case scenario looks like. Possibly even more freeing? Knowing how to adapt, deal and handle that worse case scenario. I’ve already lived it. Honestly, I know my boss’ angriest – and I have lived through it. I don’t know my new boss’ angriest – and who knows if I will live through it? (I’m being dramatic, I will – but these are the thoughts permeating my brain!)
  • Understanding of company practice , and habit, and the day-to-day. I know what to expect when I walk into work on a Monday morning, I know what my boss will want me to prioritize, I know what my clients will want me to prioritize, I know who I need to speak to and how to find specific information. I know what I need to do, daily, to succeed at that job. I know all the little tricks; I know where to find examples of what I am working on, I know how to double the caffeine in the coffee machine, and I know who to look to for an early out on a Friday.
  • Finding strength in knowing the routine. As someone riddled with anxiety and OCD, homegirl LOVES a routine. Right now, I have my routine at work pinned down pretty well. I work on more challenging things in the morning, I go to one specific reviewer if I need help, I close claims as soon as I can to keep my claim count low. Basically, I know what I am doing, and I can walk in and do it, without any help. Even my morning routine is the same – casual work clothes, stop at QT for a drink, and sunflower seeds… all day long.

Change is hard, and sometimes, we must do hard things. I have said this time and time again and I believe it, 100%. Change IS hard. But you know what else is hard? Staying stagnant because it’s comfortable. There really is just something so comfortable about comfortable.

But comfortable isn’t where you grow. Comfortable isn’t where you challenge yourself and learn new things. Comfortable probably isn’t going to lead you to your dream job or to your next big step. Comfortable is never pushing your own boundaries, and allowing yourself to remain “average”, even in the face of something really, really great.

And I think this opportunity has every possibility of being something really, really great. It’s an up and coming type of business, where we will get to work for the insureds (and not corporate America), and there is substantial space for growth. The new place, my new place, really emphasizes mental wellness, and reasonable work loads, and self care. It is an open-door, team-oriented, work environment.

To be clear, I believe whole-heartedly that this new job is where I need to be, where I can learn and push myself, but within reason. I have no doubt that the environment is going to be so much better for me and my anxiety. I think it goes without saying that I feel so blessed by this opportunity and I am so excited for my future, but just in case, I KNOW I am lucky.

But still.. somehow, all I want to say is: “don’t change, I like you just the way you are.”

Change is hard but change is exciting. Change is invigorating. Change is necessary. Change is inevitable. Change is growth. Change is liberating. Change is healthy. So as convinced as I am that change is hard, I am trying to believe that change is all of these wonderful, important, pivotal things too.

I have no doubt, in a few months time, I’ll be laughing over this whole anxiety attack-episode. But for now, do me a favor, and just “don’t change, because I like you just the way you are,” readers.

Don’t worry about me, I’m making tamales. That always makes me feel like I have my shit together.

There are sunny daze ahead, my friends, always ๐ŸŒž

The Elephant Butt

There was an elephant butthole on my kitchen wall. Smack in the center of the kitchen, a real eye catcher. But let me back up real quick..

You will never meet anyone that has worse luck than Matt and I when it comes to home projects. I thought it was just Matt, but he seems to have rubbed off on me, and now we have absolutely no hope.

It started with Bob. We hired Bob to replace all our outdated doors and trim in our house. (Side note: we have an ABSURD amount of doors in our house – like the square-footage to door ratio is WAY off).

Of course, we landed on this project right when the cost of lumber/supplies absolutely skyrocketed. So, our original quote was off – by a lot.

No worries. Shit happens. We shall move forward.

Bob missed the memo on moving forward. He took our money, and then… got a divorce, dealt with a custody battle, chopped his finger off and developed sepsis.

I only tell you all of that because that’s precisely what Bob told us for an entire year while we patiently waited for him to finish the project.

Spoiler alert: Bob never returned.

I would like to say that we discussed the whole situation reasonably and like adults, with Bob, but sepsis seems to have robbed him of his remaining rationality. Ultimately, we opted to move on – counting it as a HUGE lesson on the hiring of handymen.

A good year later, we are back in the position to hire someone to install the rest of the doors, trim, and paint the house. It’s pricier than we thought, but we wanted it done. Whatever.

Along comes Peter (not his name, but he’s a little scary). Peter talked a MAD painting game and showed us all these “past” projects he had done.. we were genuinely blown away and so excited. Plus, he provided a a contract and proof of licensure.

As you probably guessed, Peter was a bullshitter too. ๐Ÿ™ƒ unfortunately, we did not learn this before he single-handedly destroyed our new doors, painted our entire house a puke green, and rolled paint on BOTH the floor and the ceiling. I don’t even know how that happens… it seems like you should be aware of (at a minimum) either the floor or the ceiling.

But Peter’s greatest gift, his long-lasting gift.. was the elephant butthole he planted smack in the middle of the kitchen. ๐Ÿ˜

You are probably appalled.. and confused.

Let me explain, Peter, in all his painting glory, and as a demonstration of our newfound, yet profoundly deep friendship, decided that he was going to paint Matt and I a custom mural as a wedding gift.

Stop. Pause. ๐Ÿ›‘ This was when we were under the impression that the portfolio of work that he showed us was, in fact, his work.

So, we were thrilled.

Unfortunately, our excitement was sorely misplaced.

First, this mural included every color of the rainbow.

Second, this mural included three-dimensional wall spackling. Our wall was literally built upon.

Third, it included spray paint… inside my house? Even I know better than that.

But anyways, Peter is BLOWN AWAY with his artistry – he can’t stop sending pictures to Matt and I during the day.

& I have to be honest, I wasn’t having a lot of luck visualizing the final product – or how this was going to suddenly turn into beautiful art. But, I thought maybe my own lack of creativity was causing some sort of skewed view of this mural and I was missing something. Because this guy is, for real, freaking out about this awesome mural that he was painting.

Matt and I could not even make eye contact while discussing the “wall” with Peter. It’s unknown at this time if we would have burst out laughing, cussed him out, or burst into tears – but all reactions were not going to match his excitement. We opted to stay quiet.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, Matt and I are STILL thinking about his portfolio and all the cool stuff he had showed us. Without a doubt, this was step one in the wall and things would be dramatically turning around.

Things got dramatic, but the wall did not get dramatically better.

Peter painted an elephant butthole right in the center of our island. ๐Ÿ™ƒ it’s a little abstract, but it’s there. It’s the Van Gogh of buttholes.

Or, if you share the same artistic mind as my mother, he painted an entire uterus and fallopian tubes – dead center of our kitchen. Anatomically, it was decently accurate, but it spoils the appetite every time.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Peter has never painted – like in his whole life. By this time, he had made a huge mess of our entire house and paint was everywhere; floor, ceiling, appliances, light sockets, door knobs. You name it and I can promise it was covered in paint in our house.

I feel very confidently that Lucy, the dog, would be a better painter. So, we decided to immediately terminate that contract, even if it meant we wouldn’t get our money back or a finished project.

Again, we are out thousands of dollars, we have MAYBE one request fulfilled out of the entire project, and there’s an elephant asshole/fallopian tubes in the middle of our kitchen.

Y’all, I cannot make this up. You can laugh.

For this reason โฌ†๏ธ, and Bob, and Sepsis, and missing fingers and Peter and rogue painting rolls and INDOOR SPRAY PAINT, I have determined that Matt and I have the worst luck when it comes to home projects. I feel strongly that you will agree – we should just stop trying now.

So, that’s the story of how I ended up with an elephant butthole, in my kitchen, as a wedding gift. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ SEE, it really isn’t all sunshine and rainbows over here. Sometimes it’s female anatomy and elephant private parts.

Honestly, it’s been like that for six months. It is only now, after my father-in-law sanded down and repainted the wall for us that I feel it is safe to admit this misfortune. Truly, thank god for father-in-laws, he has fixed it all โค๏ธ

LEARN FROM ME – please. I don’t even know what lesson to take from this story. I want to say that the lesson is to not trust anyone and art doesn’t exist – but I know that’s not the truth. This was just one heck of a let down that created one hell of a story. It’s not every day that you can say you have a butthole on your wall. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

Sunny daze ahead sweet friends, I just know it! Protect those walls. ๐ŸŒž

May 28th, 2022

We did it. It was somehow the fastest day, with the most frozen-in-time and memorable snapshot moments. I think we both were blessed to go into the day with absolute confidence in our hearts and in our forever.

We were also advised to enjoy the day, because it would go by so, so quickly. And it did, but it didn’t. Speaking for myself, I really tried to take the time to absorb the moment – every moment. Even the rehearsal dinner hangover. ๐Ÿ˜œ.

Matt enjoyed the day too. It blew his mind how many people showed up for us, to celebrate us, and to support us. It’s one of those things where you always “assume” you’re liked (at least decently), but in a single moment, a single day, you learn exactly how loved and cherished you are. We are truly surrounded by the best people in the universe. ๐Ÿ’•

So, now what? For the last 9 months.. the wedding, and our plans, have dominated almost every conversation or thought I have had. I can only imagine that I have been the worst company for the last year or so. Please accept my apologies now.

I want to write about our wedding, and our change in traditions, and our newfound traditions, but we just got home from Florida and my dogs are demanding my immediate attention.

I will be back soon! The good news? There are sunny daze ahead… and some really, really sunny daze behind us. โ˜€๏ธ

xoxo, happily married. ๐Ÿ’•

Soft smiles ๐Ÿคฃ

She is beauty, she is grace, she just fell flat on her face

Anyone else feel lied to?

I feel like the whole human existence is kind of a big, fat lie. I know.. dramatic. But hear me out:

I remember as a child thinking that the kids in high school were so cool. They “just had their life together.” They were going to college and they were going to pursue careers. Their parents were proud. Shoot, they were proud.

Plus they could drive. The world was literally their oyster.

Then I remember sitting in high school and thinking “wow, college kids REALLY have it all together.” They are on their way now. They have goals, they have ambitions. They are creating and constructing the building blocks of their future.. and what a beautiful, picture-perfect future it was going to be.

Then after undergrad, all I could think was “oh my god, look at all these young professionals, paving their particular path in the world” whether it was through their career or grad school. They were organized. They were disciplined. They were making a difference.

Even now, any time I see a peer in a new house or with a second, third, fourth child, I’m struck by how “put together they are.” They have achieved at life so well that they are bringing more life into this world. They are so put together, they could write an instruction manual on how to properly “life” and “raise life”.

However, I have never, once, in my tenure of being me, thought to myself “damn girl, look at you go, you are organized, disciplined and really have it all together. People are probably looking at you as the pinnacle of human existence.”

In fact, I would argue the opposite. I spent high school scrambling for good grades and good deeds to get good scholarships.

I spent undergrad switching from one major to another – until I settled on English, because it was easy for me. Never mind the fact that there aren’t a lot of careers that demand an extensive knowledge of William Shakespeare’s works (if they are even really his?).

I went to law school, amongst all my driven, disciplined, and determined peers, because I wasn’t sure what to do next. Law school seemed like a good (albeit expensive) way to postpone the inevitable “oh my god, I have no idea what I am doing with my life.” At the time, I remember thinking “at least this is forward movement.”

And I have spent the last 20 or so years, flabbergasted on when everyone got their shit together and wondering why it seemed the “shit-putting together” fairy missed my house. Presumably, I was out of town when she stopped by, but I most certainly, do NOT, have my shit together.

I think social media can give you that impression though. I know it has given me that impression of my fellow human beings. Happy, happy all the time – at least, that’s what Facebook says.

I’d argue the opposite (again). Life is messy and hard. We are all floundering, just privately. No one wants to show the bad side of life, or hardship.. or really even anything that hints to them having things even slightly less that “totally put together.” It is just not our nature. To be completely transparent – even my social media is a gigantic, curated, glimpse into only the brightest moments of my life. And who can blame me? No one wants to hear about how many times I have checked that the oven was off, because my OCD is out of wack.. again.

I’m tired of the facade. I want to be authentic and I want to have authentic conversations and friendships.

So, I’m coming to you live, from my bathtub, to tell you that yesterday, in the middle of a packed restaurant, I slammed face first into a wall of windows, thinking it was the door. The windows were the type to not be trifled with.. and I kind of bounced off, rebounding, as the reverb echoed in this restaurant. Everyone went silent.

The door was right next to the wall of windows, of which, I threw my face. And food. And drink.

Here I was, a young, presumably capable, attorney, on her lunch break and I have no doubt that I was giving off the aura of complete control. I am sure I looked like I had it all together, but in reality… I body-slammed a window.

She is beauty, she is grace. She just fell flat on her face.

So, step one to authenticity: admit you totally missed the door, caused a scene in a busy restaurant, spilt your food all over yourself, shook it off in front of everyone like it was fine.. and then cried about it in your truck. Because, life isn’t so picture-perfect all the time.

It doesn’t get much more “not put together” than that.

Sunny daze ahead, my sweet friends. Be well ๐ŸŒž

She is beauty. She is grace. She just fell flat on her face. ๐Ÿซฃ

Real sentences.

I have been trying to figure out how to best sum up the last few weeks, because it’s been pretty wild. I went to Scottsdale for my bachelorette with SEVENTEEN girls and finally got my wedding dress! ๐Ÿค— We are getting there guys, and what better way to describe the last few weeks, than to give you direct quotes from the last few weeks. ๐Ÿ˜‚

“Why are there so many shades of white?” – regarding wedding veils.

“I could just try it on in the bathroom.. or in the corner” – regarding my wedding dress ๐Ÿ™ˆ. Turns out you have to have an appointment to pick that puppy up. Bridal fail.

“Lucy (the dog), just threw up in bed. Don’t worry.. I caught it” (IN MY HAND). *immediately moves in for a high-five for saving the sheets*

“What do you mean, when you say we have to write our ceremony?” – me to Matt, upon finding out that there’s not a pre-written wedding ceremony.



“another one”

“Please no more” โฌ†๏ธ a live feed of my response to strangers buying me shots at my bachelorette. It started fun… but took a turn quickly.

“No, I actually always sleep on the floor” – me trying to play off sleeping on the floor instead of bed..

“No.. I want cow print on my nails. It’s my final hoe down throwdown” – me to my poor, innocent, nail tech.

“Yes, perfect, just need to run that by your sister..” – to my client that did not know he had a sister.

“Ew it tastes like cookie dough in a bad way.” – my response to the cookie dough whiskey I have been dying to try. ๐Ÿคฃ

“Please don’t destroy anything I love.. especially bed” – me to Zeppelyn, before leaving for the bachelorette.

“I think I sunburnt my nostrils” – my response to desert living ๐Ÿคฃ

“Don’t forget to feed my fish” – me in response to an “I love you” from Matt.



“YES. THIS IS MY FIANCร‰ ON MY FACE.. AND HER THIGH” โฌ†๏ธ- all regarding temporary tattoos of Matt’s face we got for the bachelorette.

“Can this be my carry on?” – regarding a life-size 3-D poster of my dogs. Happy note: it made it home safely.. and it wasn’t even my carryon.

“Oh look, there’s a family of squirrels out back.”

“Oh no, Lucy just spotted them”.

“Oh god, there went grandma”.

… 5 minutes later.. “oh no, they are back looking for grandma squirrel”. โฌ†๏ธ all regarding a squirrel murder I narrated to Matt this morning.

“They just don’t make grocery bags like they used too”. – me, after spilling groceries for the 90th time.

“The police pony wants my love” – my response to seeing mounted police. Update: they didn’t want my love.

“Guys! Watch me work out!” – me as a fell on the ground trying to demonstrate a single donkey kick.

“What is this massive bruise on your butt from?” – Matt to me.. post-donkey kick situation. ๐Ÿ™„. I think he was hoping for a spicier story than that.

“Gosh, I hate to waste all these gift bags” – me, channeling my inner-mother, trying to reuse the shit out of gift bags.

“Anyone else think horse poop smells relaxing?” – it’s true. I don’t know what it means to “smell relaxing”, but it certainly is a comforting smell. Where are my horse people at? Back me up. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

“Watch how low I can go… oh god, I’m stuck” – me dancing. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

“You should come on our family honeymoon” – me to any stranger while under the influence.

& yes, we are going on a family trip for our honeymoon. Get at us. ๐Ÿ˜‚

“I think I want to do a first reveal with my dog” – me to the wedding coordinator ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

“We don’t need a rehearsal dinner.. everyone has been walking since they were like one. It’ll be fine” – me upon deciding that we will not be rehearsing our nuptials ๐Ÿฅด

“Oh no, there’s a poop on the floor” – just… Zeppelyn.

“I scheduled a car appointment today, but I took my car to the wrong place” – explaining to my father why my truck is still in a disheveled state. ๐Ÿคฃ

“I LOVE DESERT PONIES!” – blurted out upon actually riding a desert pony.

Ya’ll, it’s been wild! What have you been up too?

There are sunny daze ahead, I promise. It’s almost SPRING. ๐ŸŒž

Yup. That’s Matt on my face. ๐Ÿคฃ

The intricacies and the oddities ๐Ÿง

Hi frannnnsss! Recently, my blog has started to gain some traction! I’m gaining new followers on WordPress and Facebook on the daily lately (and while it is awesome), I have to admit, I have no idea what changed.

Like most of my technological exploits, unless the answer is to turn it off and then turn it back on, it’s likely I have no idea what is going on or how to fix it. I can confidently say… I have no idea what is going on. That being said, I AM SO GLAD YOU ARE HERE! Happy days! Sunny days! Sunny Daze, if you will!

I thought I would take a minute, via a blog post, to introduce myself to anyone who is new here… or just wants to know me more. As with most things, I will probably not conform with your general introduction expectations. I don’t conform often – you should get used to that.

But to start, I’m Ashley. I’m a 20-something, dog-mom, lady lawyer. I am a daughter, a sister and a fiancรฉe. (I will forever say finance instead of fiancรฉe – I just can’t unsee it).

I’m deeply terrified of butterflies.

I am convinced that I am going to die in a car fire. Hopefully, not soon.

  • It’s kind of a long story really, but just know.. I have seen an INORDINATE amount of car fires in my lifetime.
  • I’m stressed enough about it that I bought everyone I love a car fire extinguisher for their own vehicle for Christmas. ๐Ÿ˜…

I have a lot of unpopular opinions:

  • Bacon. What is all the rage? I don’t get it. Sure, it makes a lovely club sandwich! It’s not bad wrapped around vegetables. But am I going to eat it plain? Absolutely. Not.
  • Bacon jerky? Completely different story. Same with bacon bits. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ. I don’t know, I have some weird complex about warm, whole-piece bacon, I guess.
  • Condiments? Again – wtf! Ketchup ๐Ÿคข, mustard ๐Ÿคข, ranch ๐Ÿฅด, barbecue sauce ๐Ÿคฎ (I know, bad Kansan), Buffalo sauce? No thank you. Marinara for cheese sticks? WHY ARE YOU RUINING FRIED CHEESE?
  • I can’t watch made up shows like Criminal Minds when I am trying to fall asleep, but I find the true stories depicted on Forensic Files to be adequately soothing for sleep. ๐Ÿ˜
  • I think lunch is the most important meal of the day.. but I’m not willing to fight over it.
  • I don’t think I could identify a single sports car in a parking lot if my life depended on it.

I really use words like “neato Cheeto” and “snazzy” and “delightful” in my day-to-day conversations.

I find selfies so odd. I mean, I’ve done them.. I’m guilty. But isn’t it odd to take a picture of your face and assume everyone else wants to see your face too?

I was kicked out of Girl Scouts as a child… couldn’t stop fighting people. ๐Ÿคฃ No, I’m kidding. We were on the horseback riding unit, and I was a real horseback rider, and our troop leader kept calling all the equipment by the wrong names. Obviously, I was not going to let that slide. MY PEERS NEEDED EDUCATED. I was asked to leave.

My dreams of being a doctor ended with a frog. My dreams of being a animal lawyer ended with a lobster. And so now, I read contracts – and oddly, I kind of like it.

There is absolutely 0% chance you will ever hear me utter the words: “wow, I wish we could climb that mountain.. for fun”

I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie. Like a full-blown movie.

Actually, I can’t remember the last time I went to a movie theater, either.

  • Funny story: one of the first times that I was allowed to go to the movie theater with my friends (I was literally probably 17 (or an adult) because my parents helicoptered… I mean, watched us closely), I accidentally let someone in the side door of the theater. I recognized him, and without thinking, I just opened the side door and he walked in… and then snuck into a theater.. without paying. I was so distraught that I had allowed this behavior to happen that I told the security guard on myself and called my dad on myself๐Ÿฅด even the security guard was like.. it’s really okay.

BUT ALAS, my compass of right and wrong was especially sensitive back then and I absolutely needed to go to my room and think about my careless actions and bad behavior!

Now, my moral compass is still pretty strong, but I agree, there can be some gray areas. I don’t think that there any gray spots in how you treat others, or your family, or the type of employee and friend you are.

…But I do think that bringing home (ie taking) a little ramekin from a restaurant with “Yum-Yum” sauce may be necessary if you have no other options. They should work on that.

Math is hard, numbers give me anxiety, and my OCD has me obsessed with dates. But weird/morbid dates. Like I can tell you the date and time my horse stopped breathing. Or I can tell you the day that I walked out of my last pre-med lab class with the dumb frog.

Day to day, it’s not so clear. For instance, I have thought for the last three days it has been Wednesday. I believe we are finally here. It is Wednesday, right?

Once, I was in a spelling bee. My parents came to watch. My dad took time off work! I stumbled over the first letter, laughed, said “can I restart” all in violation of the rules and was promptly disqualified. It’s not my proudest moment, but it is a moment.

I used to not eat beef because cows were too closely related to horses in my mind.

So yeah, that’s me. I think that sums it up pretty well. ๐Ÿคฃ. Tell me some need-to-know, strange fact about you and then we will be well on our way to best friendship on the interwebs.

A selfie! For your uncomfortable viewing pleasure ๐Ÿ˜

There are sunny daze ahead, sweet friends! I just know it!

I’m not going to be sad tomorrow.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Eve. More importantly, happy March 16th. March 16th is the day before March 17th and March 17th is a really, really special day. March 17th is Star’s birthday.. and Star is my horse.

Or.. she was. As you may remember, she’s dead now. Dead as a door nail – 100 pounds of ash stuffed in a wooden box. There’s an entire blog post dedicated to the whole chaotic catastrophe that was the end of her life, but that is not the topic for today. Today, we talk about the day she was born.

Star graced the Earth with her presence on St. Patrick’s Day, in 1996, most likely like a freight train – loud, heavy, and a force to be reckoned with. (I assume, I wasn’t there). She entered into the universe ready to show the all the cowboys and cowgirls exactly what a wild horse looked like, untethered by rules or any form of training. She spent her days demonstrating her utmost independence, her general distaste for rules, and her undeniable zest for life… and eating. She was wild, and a little spastic, and free. Star was a star in every sense of the word: beautiful, bright, hot (tempered), and easy to fixate your eyes on. She was the star of my show, the star of my entire universe, and honestly, she was the star of her own universe as well. Star loved Star, her BFF Susie, and maybe me.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, I loved her a lot. I loved her for more than half of my life, more than half of her life. We shared 15 adventure-filled years together – celebrating her birthday and ignoring every single St. Patrick’s Day, as if I am not at least 50% Irish. (๐Ÿ˜ฌ, sorry grandparents – priories, ya know?) I have always loved celebrating my friends and she was no different.

So yes, tomorrow is her birthday and she won’t be here for it. But, I’m not going to be sad. Actually, there are several things that I will not be doing:

I’m not going to undermine her life. I’m not going to downplay her loss because she was an animal and animals die every day. I’m not going to tell myself “she was just a horse”, because to me, she was so much more. She was a friend and a safe place.

I’m not going to compare – I know that there are people in our world that have unfortunately lost parents, and children, and spouses. I know I am blessed that by all of life still around me. But today, I’m not going to let my many, many blessings convince me that I do not have the right be sad about her loss. I am not going compare my loss of Star to someone else’s tragic loss, or allow myself to believe that she is somehow less of a loss, because she was a horse. The enormity of her life and her impact in my life was simply too profound to reduce to “she was just a pet.”

I’m not going to feel guilty. I am not going to chastise myself for feeling like my world came crashing down with her loss sometimes, even though there are people all over world that are losing their family, friends, homes, and countries.. right this moment. I’m not going to tell myself that I have to feel guilty for missing Star and wishing she was here, because there is hardship, illness, and strife taking over the world. I am not going to let the ugliness that is the world take away from the beauty that was her life. It’s two separate topics that do not coexist in the same realm. I am going to allow myself to be sad because Star is not here, and be sad that Ukraine is under attack, and not categorize one as more heartbreaking. They are both heartbreaking, but differently heartbreaking.

I’m not going to tell myself how lucky I was to love and be loved by her as a way to take away the detriment of her absence. I refuse hold myself hostage to our 15 beautiful years together, 15 birthdays. Her life is so much further reaching than 15 years and her lifetime, and while it is true that I had 15 years with her, and 15 birthdays with her, tomorrow is her birthday and she won’t be here. Those 15 years, while amazing, don’t take away the fact that she is not here. Right now. I’m not going to tell myself that they somehow erase the pain of her loss.

She was a huge part of my life and I’m not going to feel bad that I miss that part of my life and her existence on this planet. But, I’m not going to be sad.

That would not be what she would have wanted for me, and honestly, that’s not what I want for myself. I may be nostalgic. I may be reminiscent. But I won’t be sad.

Star made me happy, she made me feel comfortable and accepted. She made me feel unique, and adventurous, and brave. I have seldom felt as in control of myself and my mind, as I did on her back. She was safe. I lost that when I lost her. I have, and always will, chase that feeling every day for the rest of natural my life. In the two and half years that she has been gone, I have yearned for this feeling again – the feeling of carefree, relaxed, bliss.

Random acts of kindness bring about this kind of joy and a Star-brand of contentment. When in doubt, Act of Kindness it out (I am so going to coin this as my personal motto)! So that’s what I have decided to do for her birthday this year – to honor her and her memory. I have an entire day of small acts of kindness planned. Being kind, and surprising others, and making people smile, exactly like Star always did for me.

So no, I’m not going to be sad. I’m going to be kind, I’m going to be brave, I am going to smile and remember all of the good memories. I’m going to chase that feeling of pure, unadulterated, joy that she always brought out of me..

and I know she’ll be right by my side, in the spirit world, probably trying to kick me or steal all the treats.

Happy birthday, Star. I am not going to lie and say I don’t wish you were here, but I am going value the time spent, the love shared, and all the messy memories in between. I’m not sad today. I love you, my baby, forever.

There are sunny daze ahead my sweet friends, EVEN tomorrow. ๐ŸŒž

The dream team. No actually, right after this photo, she dumped my ass on the ground, in true Star fashion โญ๏ธ

If I could have told you so..

Hi, hi, HI THERE! Long time, no write. I’m stumbling, humbly, back into your feeds with my infinite words of wisdom… or possibly just random thoughts. I guess it’s up to you- take from it what you will or take away absolutely nothing at all. No pressure either way.

I’ve missed writing, but I have struggled to know what to write. To be honest, adult life is kind of boring, planning a wedding is kind of boring, caring for an ailing dog is kind of boring. Don’t get me wrong, boring is good. It means everyone is healthy, and relatively happy, and functioning.. and we are! Even Lucy! Boring is good, but it doesn’t really inspire blog writing.

It does, however, inspire reflection. I don’t know if it’s the pending life changes, like I don’t know.. freaking MARRIAGE.. or what, but I have been spending a lot of time in my head, just kind of ruminating.

I’ve been thinking about younger Ashley, the person I used to be and how, specifically, I got here to this exact moment – 3 months out of marrying my best friend, surrounded by an entire herd of dogs, in Nebraska of all places. It hasn’t been a cake walk. There have been hard times, but there have been innumerable good times. There have been memories -some fantastic, some.. less than fantastic. There have been regrets, there have been choices, and there have probably been some mistakes. But there has also been joy, and immeasurable fun, and incredible growth. I’ve been blessed, and truly, I don’t think that I would go back and change a single thing. It really is like that Rascal Flatts’ song, all of these moments have lead me directly to this spot, today. I like this spot. I’m proud of this spot.

But that’s not to say that I don’t wish I could tell my younger, more naive, sometimes too trusting and hopeful, version of myself, a little about life.

If I could go back, and talk to that girl, I would tell her that she has value… and it’s not monetary. I would tell her that her friends that love her, will love her for who she is and what she stands for, not for what she can provide. I would tell her that there is a difference between having a giving heart and letting yourself be walked on… and to stop being a doormat. I would tell her that she has more to offer than things… important stuff like love, and support, and companionship. Her friendship will be enough for the right people.

I would tell her that there is more to life than good grades and accolades. I would tell her that one day, her score in biology or her score on the LSAT really isn’t going to matter, but the type of person that she is, and has been, will always be important. No one remembers who got the top score in the intro to chemistry, but everyone remembers the person that was their friend when no one else was, that helped without being asked, and that who was true, to themselves and to others. I would tell her that it’s much more important to be a good daughter, a good granddaughter, and the cousin that is there for anything and everything. It’s more important to be the friend that loves wholly, supports endlessly, and can be counted on. Sometime, like in your late twenties, you won’t have the student “role” to fall back on. It will ONLY matter what kind of person you are and were. Make sure you’re proud of that person.

I would tell her to start practicing saying no now, because if she doesn’t, she’ll be 28 and struggle with boundaries. (๐Ÿ˜…) I would promise her that anyone that is worth having will respect those boundaries, and anyone who doesn’t, isn’t worth having. I would look her in her big, brown eyes and remind her of this often, especially when she’s convinced I’m lying. I would tell her that no person is worth violating those boundaries. I would reiterate that there is no love shared, no trust gained, and no relationship cultivated, when you’re uncomfortable and pretending to be someone you’re not. Respect your boundaries now, so when you’re 28, you know how to tell your friends, your coworkers and your family, no. No, with no explanation. No, with no excuse. Just no, it doesn’t serve me and that is okay. Then, I would stare her down and BEG her to take this advice, because future Ashley really needs her to become sound in this practice. Future Ashley would beg younger Ashley to do the work, so she doesn’t have to.

I would remind her to not take everything so seriously and that not everyone will want to play house at age 19. It’s not a personal attack. Some relationships are meant to last and some aren’t. The right one will always find its way and it won’t need to be forced. Hell, you may even yell at him for blocking your view at a concert ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ. Crazy things will happen, and it will feel like your heart is breaking, and you will be disappointed and you will be let down, but you will always pick yourself back up. I would remind her that it is always worth it to pick herself back up. I would emphasize that her knight in shining armor is waiting and every step on this winding journey will eventually make sense. I’d advise her to take those relationships, and friendships, and experiences, and use them to make herself better. Every instance, every heart break, will shape her into the person she are meant to be. Embrace the journey, love wholeheartedly and unabashedly, and be excited to see the person, and friend, and partner that you will become.

I would tell her to be authentic, to herself and to others. I would tell her to feel pretty, to smile big, and to eat the damn carbs. I would tell her to hug her family tight, hug her dogs tight, and hug her horse even tighter, because there will be a day that those hugs aren’t there waiting for her. I would tell her to take the jump, to trust herself, to believe in herself, and to be confident, always. I would encourage her to watch her mouth and to speak kindly to herself and others. I would remind her to manifest goodness and to always see the goodness in others.

I would tell her to love herself and remind her that she has a good heart. I would tell her that these hard moments and these tough experiences will inevitably shape her into the person she becomes. I would tell her to be brave, to be strong, and to embrace the challenge. I would warn her that the time goes by, regardless of her attitude and her mood. So, I would tell her.. to just enjoy the time. And I would promise her that she turns out to be a pretty cool person. At least, I like her. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

Oh and I would tell her to suck it up and eat cream cheese like an adult.. it’s going to change bagels forever.

What would you tell your younger self, if you could?

Sunny daze ahead, my sweet friends. Love yourself, old and new. ๐ŸŒž

Up. Forward. Onward.

2022 UNunrecommendations

WordPress reminded me today that it’s been exactly one year since I started Sunny Daze๐ŸŒž. What a journey! I love having this space to say what’s on my mind and I really, really love being surrounded (metaphysically) by fellow writers, poets, creators. WordPress is a good place to be.. me. I’m accepted for who I am and what I say, even if it’s a little crazy, or opinionated, or just plain ridiculous. I’m so thankful for this space. So thank you! ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿฅณ

That being said, I took the time to scroll through my blog today and WOW, how things have changed. There have been little changes, big changes, and some serious internal changes. I think these changes needed to happen. I like me more today than I did a year ago.

I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw my first ever blog post was entitled “2021 unrecommendations.” While there was some good advice scattered in there, I can’t help but think that blog was the perfect summarization of what was going on with me internally. I didn’t think I knew a whole heck of a lot, and anything I did know, I figured I learned in a negative way. Thus, those were my unrecommendations… my attempt to stop you from making the same “mistakes” that I made.

Mistakes are funny like that though – a kind of necessary evil. I regret changing my medication around, but I will never regret all that I learned about my mental state and my mental fortitude. I probably didn’t need to drink a gallon of water a day.. but man, did my kidneys perform at top notch for like a week straight. ๐Ÿคฃ.

All of that is to say, I’m in a different place now. I trust my head and heart. I trust my intuition. I trust myself to have decent advice. So, without further ado, please see my 2022 UNunrecomendations (also known as “recommendations”).

First (and this is important), I have seen a lot of people posting about not claiming 2022 as your year.. or to “tread lightly”. People are requesting a sneak preview to 2022, before they full blown commit. Undoubtedly, the last year, or two, have been hard, challenging, and isolating; and in some cases, lonely and heartbreaking. I don’t want to understate that, because it’s the truth for 99.9% of us.

I, also, fully want to acknowledge that the majority of these people, sharing the “tread lightly” sentiment, are joking. At least, I think they are. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ but I cannot imagine a worse way to go into 2022 (hear me out!).

I’m not recommending that everyone disregard all CDC guidelines, county mandates, and go out there (into society) willy-nilly, like there isn’t a pandemic going on. But I think at this point, we all know our comfort level. We know when we don’t feel well, when we need to be more protective and preventative, and when we need to take care of ourselves… even if it’s for others.

So, my advice? Live with your whole heart. Work hard when you are at work, but remember to balance that with some serious play time. Throw yourself into your hobbies and find out what you are good at (and even bad at), and get better. Nourish your body with good food. Enjoy good meals, without guilt, and in good company. Prioritize your health, but don’t compromise your happiness. Stay active. If you are able to be around friends and family, be with them… wholly. Enjoy the conversations, absorb the lessons, memorize the stories. Be present. Take it day by day, because honestly, that’s all we are promised.

Instead of treading lightly into 2022, I recommend busting in, full force, and ready to live. Here’s the thing, the time is going to pass regardless. This is not to be read as a “screw all of society and be selfish” directive, but really.. a reality check of sorts. The. Time. Will. Pass. Regardless.

Secondly, I advise that you use judgment. You’ll notice I didn’t say to use good judgment or bad judgment – just judgment. Sometimes, I think you need to make the bad choice. Use your brain, make a decision, and stand by it. You can always use different (potentially, better) judgment to get yourself out of jam. Trust that old noggin of yours, you’ve made it this far, so you must be doing something mostly right. Use judgment, because those are the lessons you’ll remember and they are the experiences that stick with you. If you do something dumb, fix it and move on. Your judgment will only get better over time. Allow yourself to grow.. through all the good choices and the sometimes bad choices.

Thirdly, invest in yourself. The only person that you are truly always going to be surrounded by is yourself, so you might as well be someone that you like. Habits are hard to break, but it’s even harder to be in a state of mind or be a type of person that you cannot stand. . I’m here to tell you, it’s much easier to be around someone you like than someone you dislike.. especially if it’s your own mind that you dislike.

What does that look like? For me, it’s consciously choosing to program and reprogram (and reprogram again) my thoughts. I’m tired of being negative. I’m tired of expecting the worst and assuming the worst. My mind isn’t always a fun place to be, but I’m determined to change that in 2022. I am unfollowing social media accounts and people that bring me down or bring out the worst in me. I’m cutting out toxic friendships and relationships. I am working on controlling my initial thought pattern, from something negative to something positive (or at least less critical and harmful). I am cultivating the friendships that bring out the best of me. I am spending time figuring out what I like to do, whether it be running (seems unlikely ๐Ÿคฃ), reading murder mysteries, climbing back on the horse (literally), cooking, or taking the time to snuggle my pups. I’m investing in myself, after all… I am my own biggest investment.

Fourthly, take time to rest. Some would probably tell you that I have resting DOWN… and really don’t need to work on “improving this skill”. It’s true, I do love bed. But I mean a different kind of rest, one I’m not so good at. I’m working on taking time to rest my mind. I am giving myself a break, from my to do lists and my work stress. I’m taking a break from the planning for the future and goal making. I’m resting my brain. Sometimes, you just don’t need to be racing from one thought to the next. I’m trying to learn to enjoy the quiet… but I’ll admit that it’s the work in progress. Quiet mind, quiet heart, less anxiety… at least, I’m assuming.

So.. that’s it, at least for now. These are my UNunrecommendations. Run into 2022 heart and head wide open, expectations high, but also curbed and realistic. Invest in yourself and your mental well-being. And rest, do a lot of authentic resting.

At least, that’s what I am doing. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ. We will see how it goes. I have to admit, I made chicken tamales today.. and that always makes me feel like I really have my life together. ๐Ÿคฃ Maybe we should talk about this again tomorrow.

Happy 2022, sweet friends. Thanks for being here. And remember.. there are always sunny daze ahead ๐ŸŒž


1-800-Got-Junk: the best business model

Any one else guilty of following the 1-800-Got-Junk people around their house screaming “PURGE, PURGE, PURGGEEE?!”

No, just me? It’s cool. Today is one of my favorite days of the year. IT IS JUNK PURGING DAY, BAYBAY.

First, if you’re not familiar with the 1-800-Got-Junk business model, let me enlighten you with what I consider to be singlehandedly the BEST business model I have ever seen/experienced. It’s literally a dump truck, that shows up to your house empty, besides two burly men (I assume women work here also, but I’ve never witnessed it). Then you show said burly men around your nasty, junk-filled house, and they take all of the crap you point out to them to their truck to NEVER be seen again.

IT IS THE GREATEST THING EVER. They charge you by the amount of truck you fill up and we normally spend anywhere between $300-$500.. and I swear it is by FAR the best money we will spend in 2021. (Minus wedding stuff – do not panic, parents!) Total time spent? 30 minutes or less. I am not playing, it is the most bang for your buck that you can get out there… in the ENTIRE world.

You are probably starting to think that 1-800-Got-Junk is sponsoring this blog post. But no, I am just really this big of a fan ๐Ÿคฃ. Plus, I’m not sure this blog has the type of pull that gets sponsorships. But 1-800-Got-Junk, if you’re out there, and you want a dashing review, you are FREE to pull any of these words and slap them on your website. Consider it my gift to you, you little peace-bringers. ๐Ÿ˜˜

With that all aside, you are now probably really starting to wonder how two people (Matt and I) really create that much “junk” that we need this to be an annual occurrence? The truth is this… ONE of us, who shall remain unnamed, apparently does not believe in garbage cans. So much so that if the other ONE of us did not exist, our house would be one minuscule step away from episode of hoarders. We already collect dogs ๐Ÿ˜‰ Regardless of who’s fault it is (Matt’s ๐Ÿคช) there really is nothing better than taking a day and getting rid of old crap. It’s cleansing for the house, it’s cleansing for the soul.

So.. what did we get rid of? Our couch. Literally, we now just have an electric fireplace and a massive dog bed in our living room. It creates a certain ambiance… the type of ambiance that says “do not come over, we do not have seating for you, but please send your dog.” We got rid of doors and their casings, 5 of them to be exact, which were just sitting in our extra room.. collecting dust and stressing me out. We got rid of our giant collection of tree limbs that we had trimmed off our trees in APRIL. Also, I finally gave up on Matt’s pipe dream of having a bonfire for him. I’ve been with the man for 4.5 years, we’ve been prepping for a “bonfire” for the entire duration of that time together, and today… today was the day we kissed that dream goodbye. I am not sad. Oh, and we got rid of all our broken porch furniture. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ sorry neighbors, we’re about to be respectable human beings here any second now.. brace yourselves!

It’s stupid. I mean, I know that it’s just stuff, but seeing it go, feels like a weight off my chest. I know we could dump it ourselves, and if we did, we could get rid of the junk sooner, but… let’s be real, that takes a level of adult-functioning and organization that we are simply not partaking in at this juncture in life. We have things to do, cleaning up tree limbs is not part of the daily grind.. at the moment. If that’s ridiculous to you, I agree… it is ridiculous, but it’s also honest, sincere and genuine. I don’t want to do it.

So instead, we call 1-800-Got-Junk, they show up, and they take 30 minutes out of their day to change my entire life outlook. Sometimes, it just feels good to purge. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

As I sit here, watching them carry our tattered furniture out of the house, I have to admit, I fueled a fire within me. I have already gone through clothes/closets, but next on the list… junk drawers. It’s trash day on Tuesday.. and junk has got to go. We are going to be sitting in an empty house by Tuesday at the rate my brain is going.

Not to get overly meta on everyone, but I’ve also been thinking about a mental purge. Like, using this instance/experience as a visual representation of purging my stress, my anxiety, and all the things that are beyond my control, from my brain. I can’t help that Lucy is sick, and worrying about it, just steals the happiness of our days left. I can’t help that our builder may never show up again and we may have lost all that money on our doors/trim, but I can help my attitude about it all. There’s a lot of things beyond my control, that take up a lot of space in my brain, that really just do not belong there. I am a hoarder of mental “junk”. It’s time to purge all of that “junk” too.

So that’s what I did, between screaming “Purge, Purge, Purge” and pointing out junk, I dumped my own junk in that dump truck. I had to do it secretly, of course, because I cannot have the 1-800-Got-Junk people thinking I am crazier than they already do, but somewhere in that dump truck, wedged between chewed couch cushions is a bucket of work stress. Somewhere in that dump truck, maybe under the pile of tree limbs, is canine lymphoma. Somewhere in that dump truck, probably stacked between broken chairs, is the daily bullshit my mind likes to obsess over – things like fear of loss, fear of being a disappointment, fear of failure. Then the dump truck just drove off – no heavier with my “added junk”, and yet somehow, I am so much lighter.

I purged the junk. I don’t know how long this visual representation will do the trick for me, or if it will last at all, but I plan enjoy every second of peace that it has brought me in the right now. The dump can have that junk, it does not benefit me. We may be down furniture or “junk”, but we are up so much more in free space, less clutter, and less odor retention (our couch was NASTY, y’all!). All of those things bring me peace of mind, comfort, and a tiny bit more mental stability.

I’m telling you, you gotta get the stability where you can. Call 1-800-Got-Junk, get rid of the junk, and feel BETTER. You are your only hindrance (screaming this at myself, I promise).

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (most likely). ๐ŸŒž

Soul = cleansed