100 pounds of ashes

Trigger warning: this blog post will discuss the death of my horse, Star. It is not my intention to make it, or you, sad, but I also do not want to mislead you – she is still, in fact, dead. Even at the end of the story. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ no amount of glue, prayer, or drunk crying has changed that in the two years she’s been gone and I have no reasonable expectation that her circumstance will change at any point in the future (near or far).

BUT, the story of how I ended up with 100 pounds of ashes is sort of funny, at least in a morbid way (my favorite way!), so.. I’m going to share the story.

First, to be honest, it’s closer 60 pounds of ashes, but that doesn’t pack the same punch as 100 pounds. Pick whichever weight makes this story more exciting to you. 🀣

As a brief background, Star died from colic. Her guts twisted up in her belly, and clogged her up, until 25 feet of her intestines died. (Fun fact: horses apparently can live, in some situations, WITHOUT 25 FEET OF INTESTINE). She was taken into emergency surgery, where ultimately, I decided that as her BFF/partner of 15 years, I had to make a decision that was in her best interest, and maybe not mine. We let her go. Her quality of life, to that point, had been amazing, and I simply wasn’t willing to let the quality of her life diminish for my own selfish wants.

So she died – December 26th, 2019. It was devastating. Honestly, no matter how much time you think you have to prepare, no matter what the initial prognosis looked like, no matter the age, no one is ever prepared to say goodbye to their best friend. Ever. I was not prepared.. and she was 25! Not exactly a spring chicken. (Or even a chicken at all – this story is about a horse remember?).

It may surprise you, but I was actually relatively calm that entire day. ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING WHO I AM AS A PERSON. However; one thing I had never thought of/I do not think many people think of, until put in this situation, is how large a horse actually is. Star was exactly 1,124 pounds on the day she died. THAT IS A LOT OF MASS TO DO SOMETHING WITH.

Seriously, the options suck. First, decisions need to be made quickly. Secondly, no one should make these kinds of decisions while emotional and thirdly, THE. OPTIONS. SUCK.

Long story short, they put her down, brought me a chunk of her mane hair (which like πŸ₯Ί), and then they are like.. “okay, now what do you want us to do with her?”

Strangely, they do not have a ton of storage space for horse corpses. So THESE ARE THE OPTIONS THEY GAVE ME:

1. We can get the BACK HOE and load her back into her trailer and then I could bury her wherever (provided I had a back hoe at the ready, which spoiler alert: I did not). Trying to imagine my parent’s HOA’s response when I dug up a 1000 pound animal sized hole under the front tree was also impossible. Obviously, this was a no.

2. Cremation is the other option. Which, and it turns out, IS QUITE THE PROCESS. There are a couple options.

Unbeknownst to me (but probably a no brainer to most) is the cold truth that the majority of crematoriums do not have a crematory space (I want to call it oven, but that feels disrespectful. I have no idea what it is called) large enough for a horse. So, for this option, we had to store her over the weekend and then she was going to be trailered to a special animal cremation station (I’ve always wanted to say cremation station 🀣), where she would spend hours becoming 100 (realistically 60) pounds of ash, at an exorbitant fee.

ORRR HERE’S THE REALLY COOL OPTION – the second option for cremation. They offered to do a “Head, Hoof, Heart” cremation.

Now.. first, to set the scene. My horse of 15 years, who I had been fighting to keep alive for like 18 hours now, and road tripped across Kansas for, died approximately 4 minutes prior to this conversation. We (my mom and I) are in this god-awful “sorry your horse died” waiting room, and they have all of these preserved horse legs, with the tendons/bones/muscles showing, just sitting around.

This waiting room must double as the “wow, your horse broke all the bones, tendons and muscles in its leg” room, because they had all the props.

So ANYWAY, I am sitting there, probably experiencing a little shock, with this damn preserved, and halved, horse leg in my face. And this poor, poor resident, who has already seen more emotion from me than anyone really deserves goes “.. Or we can do the head, hoof, heart cremation.”

Okay, remember, I am exhausted. So.. I look at her and I’m just like “.. that is truly an awful business name.” 😳

Update: not a business name. They literally only cremate the head, the hooves, and the heart, so the person ends up with a NORMAL amount of ashes.

The moment that this hits me, it hits my mother, and truly, thank the Lord for that, because I went red. Full blown: “I am going to beat the living shit out of you with this stupid, preserved, horse leg for even SUGGESTING that we will be chopping Star up.”

Bless my mom’s heart, she tried telling me that no.. they wouldn’t be chopping her up, they would just “put up dividers to keep the ashes separate.” 🀣 she tried, okay?

HYSTERIA ENSUED. I may or may not have screamed “you are not chopping her up” to any and all parties in the building. Important note: no one was struck with the horse leg at any time, despite my best efforts.

And with those as my options.. I paid an inordinate amount of money, to have every single piece of her cremated, together, as one solid horse.

To be honest, I didn’t realize how MUCH ash she would make (is that how that should be phrased?). But given the other alternative of driving around with her dead body or letting the vet school students go to town on her body with their reciprocating saw.. I was taking the ashes. So now, I have 60-100 pounds of horse ash, in a very nice wooden box, that I have no idea what to do with.

Do I regret it? No.

Do I wish I had thought through a final plan a little better? Yes.

Is she sitting in my parents garage? Yes.

Am I afraid to drive with her in case I wreck and she explodes on the highway? Also, yes.

Do I half-jokingly keep telling everyone that we are going to spread her ashes instead of flower petals on our wedding aisle? Yes again.

Guys, I can’t make this up. This is truly how I ended up with a gigantic box of horse ash, that I insist on carrying around and weeping over, when I have had a little too much wine to drink. It’s, no joke, 1/2 the size of me. If nothing else, I have to be getting stronger. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

That being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well.. that’s not true. I would GLADLY take her back, all 1,124 pounds, in all of her glory, and be her mom/best friend again, but like I said, I just don’t think it’s gonna happen. It hasn’t so far.

I miss her. Please don’t read this as a callous post. I miss her more than words can say, but I’ve gotten to the point where I have got to be able to laugh about it. Crying isn’t changing anything, and honestly, it’s the last thing Star would want.

So: the morale of the story? Not really sure there is one. I guess, be prepared for your large farm animals to die at some point, and maybe have a plan for their remains.. or at least.. budget accordingly. πŸ˜‰.

Laugh with me, friends. You have to admit, it’s a little pathetic. No one should have 100 pounds of horse ash just laying around, but HERE I AM. Give me all your horse ash ideas… we have plenty.

Sunny daze ahead friends, I promise. 🐎❀️

Did you think you would get out of this without picture proof? 😝

Lately.

Oh hello πŸ‘‹πŸΌ. Hi. I’ve missed you. I have actually drafted a few blogs, then deleted them, because they bored me. This brain of mine has been in overdrive, but not necessarily in an exciting way. You haven’t missed much, I promise. 🀣

BUT – one thing you did miss, that I am so excited about, is that Matt proposed! Well kinda.. he tried to propose and I interrupted, as per usual. Ultimately, we are now engaged, all communication hiccups aside.

On July 3rd, 2021, Matt proposed to me in front of his family and brother and my family (all my favorite people, minus my brother that had to work), at one of my favorite places on Earth – the lake!

He proposed via the dogs, just as I have always dreamed. I was sitting on the boat with my dad, when he sent down Lucy in a bandana that said “I loved her first” πŸ₯Ί.

Next came Zeppelyn in a bandana that said “Will you marry my dad?”

Next came Matt, who got on one knee and got out approximately two words before I was screaming yes in his face and putting the ring on my own finger (in true Ashley-fashion).

Zeppelyn had another bandana that she wore the rest of the day that said “She said YES!” It’s important that we have 3 bandanas because we will have all three dogs with us for engagement pictures. πŸ˜‰

It was absolutely beautiful and perfect and the best day. It was everything I imagined my engagement would be, ever since I was a little girl. Matt put so much thought and consideration into what I would want, who I would want there, and where I would want to be. My ring is stunning, and I still can’t believe it’s mine. He really, truly outdid himself, and honestly, my heart is so happy. I am so in love. ❀️

So now.. I guess we plan the damn thing. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ. I planned on a beach wedding.. until I was actually confronted with planning a beach wedding. 🀣 now it seems like a lot of sand, and organization, and travel. Plus.. Lucy isn’t allowed on the beach that I wanted to get married on and that’s simply not going work.

Give me all your wedding planning tips, wedding must haves, and wedding regrets. I’m terrible with decisions, and WOW, there are a lot of decisions to made with this whole shebang. I’m already struggling with people pleasing and definitive decision making. Please pray for me 🀣🀣

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (if we survive wedding planning. πŸ˜‰). I’ll be back, sooner rather than later 😘

Gratitude

It’s kind of unfair that I am choosing this week to write about gratitude, as I am currently ocean-side, with the next week off of work, and only have plans of eating my weight in seafood on the agenda, but I am — so deal with it. Without a doubt, I have every reason to be grateful, especially today… and, I’m not going to lie, it’s a little easier beachside.

Gratitude is something I work on every day and something I have thought a lot about. Lately, my characterization of moments worthy of gratitude is problematic. I tend to characterize moments of thankfulness as needing to stem from the below:

  • They need to be big moments.
  • They need to be all encompassing.
  • They need to be unconditional.

To be clear, there are things that I am always thankful for; the things I know I am endlessly blessed by:

  • My family’s health and unconditional love
  • Matt’s health and unconditional love (and his family’s health and unconditional love)
  • My friends’ health and unconditional love
  • My dogs and their health and unconditional love
  • A home over my head; a job that provides me with more than enough, a vehicle that works
  • My health, mental and physical
  • Time spent with loved ones
  • Access to healthy food and clean water

These are the big ones, the ones that get added in my prayers every day, and they are generally all encompassing and unconditional (except: my job; that is MOST definitely conditional).

Importantly, I think it is invaluable to have a list of absolute, unconditional, and semi-conventional things for which to be thankful, the ones you can reference day in and day out. Or maybe even, the ones you never reference at all, because it simply goes without saying.

The thing with that list, at least to me, is that it is sort of limiting. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the “well at least my family is healthy” that I forget the little things that I’m grateful for too.

The above list, of the big ticket items, sometimes makes me feel like I can’t have a bad day, or feel unwell, or struggle with my mental health. Why? I have no reason. Reference items 1-8 above. But these things, these big ticket items? They are hard to remember and to value (as well as you should) until you have a reason to value them: a health scare, a car accident, joblessness, a GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s the truth.. sometimes, these big ticket items get overlooked, and the day in and day out nonsense starts to win, and before you know it (or before I know it), I’m not practicing gratitude at all.

To be fair, I’m human being. I am flawed, I am challenged, I am pushed. I am prone to a bad day as much as the next person, despite my many blessings. Sometimes, when you only think big picture; I think you fail the to recognize the small stuff, the little moments, that are equally as important (or a close second). Because it’s the small stuff that makes you human, and not some super thankful, cherub freak of endless joy, that lives in a naive, and harmless world, without any substantive issues. It’s admitting that I do not always win and that all days are not endless sunshine. It’s embracing the real life, honesty, and the true ups and downs of existence.

I’m always, bad day or good day, thankful for the above list. My thankfulness for those items never changes. Sometimes though, I think I need to break it down even smaller, and really force myself to notice the minute things that make life better. I need to be thankful, and spend more time focusing, on those little things, that just help me get by.

This has where my focus has been, the small stuff, the easily overlooked, day-changers. Things like the sunshine poking through on a rainy day, or even the rain lulling us to sleep. A good book, with characters you can’t help but love. Sharing Oreos with your favorite guy, but letting him drink all the milk. DoorDashing Freddy’s and eating all the curds and ice cream you can manage. An ice cold Mountain Dew to kick off the day and lots of daycare pictures of your babies. Enjoying a walk with your favorite poochies. Playing catch in the backyard. Catching up with an old friend. Bud light, a fired up grill, and the perfect evening. A Sunday nap and comfy sweats. Dateline, but no repeats.

Life is hard enough. Count the little things. I promise you, it’ll help. For me, it’s become a game… how many things can I come up with to be thankful for in any given day? The more you think about it, the more you obsess over it, the more you find to be thankful for. Open your eyes friends, we live a blessed, blessed life. ❀️

Be thankful. Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends. I’m thinking of you!

I’m tired of feelings

I’m tired of feelings. I don’t know if the title of the post gave this away, but I’m just straight up OVER IT this week. Normally, I would really try to dive into that, and diagnose precisely why I feel tired of feelings, and then offer up some (maybe) useful hints to love/appreciate feelings again. But like I said, it’s just not the in cards today.

So instead, please enjoy this random list of ACTUAL THOUGHTS and EXPERIENCES I have had this week.

1. I dreamt that I lost all my teeth. I know that this is supposed to mean something in dream interpretation but I can’t remember, and honestly, I’m a little scared to look it up right now. Scared why? Because I convinced myself that my teeth are wiggling.

Update: Matt has assured me that my teeth are in place, and my hand is wiggling, and I’m just losing my mind.

2. About two months ago, a car exploded in my backyard. Like literally.. my back yard backs up to a pretty busy street (thanks construction), and a car EXPLODED. I was there. I witnessed it. Matt did not believe me because who REALLY witnesses a car explode, especially from their kitchen.

Last weekend, I witnessed another car explode. I was one of the first on the scene and got stuck on the highway while they closed everything down. Matt did not believe me again, because who sees TWO cars explode in a few months span.

The answer is me. I am terrified of cars exploding now. (IMPORTANT NOTE: no one, besides my fragile mental state, was injured in these explosions. Thank God). But yeah, now I don’t even want to drive anywhere with my dogs in case the car starts to explode, and I have to let them out, and they get hit by another car on the highway (welcome to the inner workings of my SUPER FUN brain!).

So I’m convinced it’s a bad omen and I am trying VERY HARD to be kind to Fiona F-150. The last thing I need is an inanimate object pissed at me and spite exploding. 🀣

3. About a month ago, I went to a bachelorette party and we got the CUTEST little penis candle. I cannot stop hiding it in Matt’s music room when I know that he is going to have friends over. 100% hoping to embarrass him, as any loving girlfriend would. He’s noticed exactly 0 of these incidents. I’m not giving up.

4. Lucy and Zeppelyn had to get their nails trimmed at daycare the other day. Prior to this moment, daycare was Lucy’s favorite place. She now thinks daycare is Satan’s playground. She wouldn’t even look at Matt and I last night. No joke, she drug her food dish to the corner of the kitchen and stared at the wall for hours. BUT DOGS DON’T HAVE FEELINGS! (Sarcasm: she clearly hates getting her mani/pedi on).

5. Remember how I told you I got fake fish for my fish tank..? Yeah, went ahead a bought fake flowers for my front porch planters too. There are things I’m willing to expend energy on.. watering plants.. is not one of them.

6. I cannot stop eating Freddy’s. Honestly, it’s scary. I also love their ice cream. This is a bit awkward. I have spent the last several years convinced that I am lactose intolerant. Suddenly, I can tolerate ice cream. I think it is all psychological. 🀣

7. It’s been raining. Incessantly. My floors are so paw-printed that we may NEVER recover.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I am NOT cleaning the floors between every single potty break. The floors will be cleaned. Someday. Today is not that day. Socks for the win!

8. Why is detergent so expensive? I’m serious. I just want clean clothes.. without itchy skin. Actually, I know why it’s so expensive. That question was sort of rhetorical. I love tide pods, so this is sort of on me.

It stems from a dumb incident. One time, like an idiot, I left a full container of new liquid detergent on my dryer.. and it promptly fell off, creating a HUGE puddle mess. To clean it up, I used my dirty clothes.. which then caused my washer to overflow with bubbles (because that’s way too much detergent per load). I realize this is the type of thing a 26 year old (at the time) should have known.. but here we are, a true story.

So really, the reason detergent is so expensive is because I only trust myself with the pods. Turns out you really do have to pay for perfectly measured amounts of detergent, stain remover, and softener. It’s the price I pay – to avoid catastrophic, detergent puddles of doom and an out of control bubble machine… and flooding. Lots of flooding.

πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ at least the basement smelled good. Or it did. Of course, we may have mold now. 🀣

9. My neighbor got their 4 year old a trampoline. I’m so ridiculously jealous. She cries a lot too.. so I’m not even sure she appreciates it as much as I would. (I realize this is a BIT ridiculous on my part – but like I said.. I’m OVER feelings). I want a trampoline. She cries too much. I should have the trampoline. It makes perfect sense.

10. I found 3 gray hairs on my head this week. I spent a good portion of my morning trying to convince myself it was my dogs hair, tangled within my own hair, from bed. But nope, it’s all mine.

Oh.. SPEAKING OF HAIR, 6 months ago I cut 11 inches of my hair off of my head to donate. Then I immediately regretted it. (You know how they tell you not to cut your bangs when your going through emotional turmoil.. turns out the same is true with chopping off a foot of hair. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ) So, to cope with these feelings of self-loathing and regret, I carried my ponytails around in my truck console for months. (Isn’t that creepy?! I’m a freaking weirdo).

Happy to report, I finally donated it this weekend. So.. here’s to no longer being attached to locks that are disconnected from my head. It feels like real, adult, growth.

That’s it. That’s all I got for you. I’m not sure how to interpret these thoughts and these events, and I honestly, I’m not sure there’s much to interpret. Just a day in the life of the random, sporadic, Ashley Bee, brought to you from my favorite spot, sandwiched between my three favorite pups.

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (probably)

HOME-aha

I think it’s cute that Omahans get the benefit of calling Omaha, HOME-aha. The name just works. Definitely doesn’t flow the same with KansasHOME City, nor any other version of the words “Kansas City” combined with the word “Home”. But somehow, someway, Kansas City is home.. and so is Omaha/HOME-aha.

It did not start that way. I am a Kansas Citian, tried and true (and born and raised). I love Kansas City, I never thought I would leave to be honest. I mean, I even went to KU (goooooo Jayhawks!πŸ’™β€οΈ) just to stay close to home, much to my Boomer Sooner parents probable regret. Kansas is flat, and purportedly boring, and wheat-filled.. AND I JUST LOVE IT. Although not a fan of barbecue (an actual sin), there is so much about KC that I love: the landscape, the adventures, the memories, the sports, the energy, the lakes.

But mainly, I just love the fact that my family and friends are there. I’ve talked about it before, but to me, there are few concepts/ideas as important to me than home. I do not like leaving it. Like.. I’m one of those people that was EXCITED when quarantine happened so I had a legitimate reason to turn down plans. 🀣. I’ve also talked about how home isn’t a place, or a bunch of things, but rather a person, a feeling, a safety. Home is an environment and there are almost no environments that measure up to home in my opinion (EVEN COUNTING THE BEACH! 😱)

Truth be told: my last childhood sleepover was in second grade (an unfortunate puking incident ended that fun). My next sleepover was the first night in the dormitory at KU. So no, my ass was not going to Oklahoma, or any other state for that matter, because I simply wasn’t sure I was leaving home at all. My freshman schedule consisted of classes every other day, not because it was convenient (which it was, btw), but so I could go home between school days. I’m just a homebody, or a “family-body” if you will.

Being away from my family is comparable to torture, especially as a young, 20-something. The thought of being without my safety net, my protectors, and my favorite people, was inconceivable. Home was wherever they were. And they, my mom, my dad, and my brother, are still home. They always will be.

But three years ago, I embarked on a new journey, and I moved to Omaha, despite everything in me telling me not to. Love does weird things to you, y’all πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ. Matt was too good to pass up, and I wanted, so badly, to give it a fair shot. A 3-hour, distance relationship.. was not a fair shot. So I did it. I moved.

Well.. sort of. I didn’t tell anyone I was moving (including matt), I barely packed anything, and I just kinda showed up in Omaha with my dog, my clothes and a pillow, and announced that I would be living here now. 🀣 (I am still not sure my boyfriend invited me to live with him, but after 3 years, that is neither here nor there). Not acknowledging moving was the best way to move for me, but I truly don’t recommend it. It’s a little stressful for all parties. (😝 poor Matt).

And I’m not going to lie.. I HATED IT, absolutely hated it. I did myself no favors. I moved while I was supposed to be studying for the bar, so I was not working, I was not socializing, I was not even studying with anyone. The only person I saw was Matt, which lost some of its excitement after a while (not because of him, but because of me). I was sleeping all day, studying all night (less distractions) and I was miserable.

Friendly piece of advice: Don’t move somewhere and allow yourself 0 opportunity to make friends. Your boyfriend can only be your only source of socialization for so long.. before you both go crazy. TRUST US. πŸ€ͺ

So, with that outstanding start, I’m sure you can imagine how the rest of the first year went. I had no life, no friends of my own (bless Matt’s friends’ souls. They tried). I didn’t LOVE my job. The winters were colder. Matt’s dog was kind of a dick. I didn’t know how to do simple adult tasks without my parents. I was confused and stressed, and just really, really unhappy. Even my grocery store wasn’t organized how I liked.

(This is how irrational I was, I was mad about the freaking organization of the grocery store). So, I decided, I would go home. I was done, I tried it, and it didn’t work. I loved Matt (and still do) but he could come with me if he wanted πŸ˜‰. It wasn’t working.

I told my dad, who was THRILLED and I told my mom, who I was expecting to be thrilled as well.. but she surprised me. First, important note: my mom and I are besties, being away from her sucked and still sucks. So when I was expecting her to be brimming with excitement, and she was not, I was shocked. That day, my mom gave me some of the best advice of my life.. and completely changed my life’s trajectory. She told me she would love for me to come home, but she wanted me to be able to come home, knowing that I had given living here my all. Basically, she wanted me to be able to tell her/myself/Matt that I tried my hardest to be happy, and I just didn’t like it, and she simply did not think that was the truth. She was right, I was bent on being miserable.

I was put-off, and honestly, I am sure my feelings were hurt. Knowing me, I probably took it as a “don’t come home, we don’t want you here” at first, but the more I thought about it.. the more I realized she was right. I would always regret moving home, if I couldn’t even tell myself that I tried my best to be happy in my circumstances. So that day, I gave myself a month. I called girls I had met, but never hung out with, and made dinner plans, I made date night plans with Matt and other couples, I started going to work functions. I even spent time learning the stupid grocery store layout, so it wasn’t so overwhelming to go.

Crazily enough, a month later, I didn’t want to go home. I told myself I would give myself a couple more months (to let this new energy subside) and see how I felt.

Three months later, I still didn’t want to go home.

Now, we are three years in, and I can happily say, I’m HOME-aha. πŸ’•

Kansas City will always be home, but you can always have more than one home. Honestly, I think everyone should. You should have your family, that you are always “at home” with, you should have your life partner/person, who makes anywhere in the world feel like home, and you should have your group of friends, which feel like home the second you’re reunited. Home is people. It is not a place. I stand by it.

The day my mom made me promise to give happiness my all, before I came home, was the day my life changed. It was at the moment, or the moments afterwards, once I was thinking with my brain and not my heart, that I realized happiness is a choice. Like the type of choice that you have to choose every freaking morning, as soon as you wake up and continue to choose all damn day long. But it’s worth it.

It is ALWAYS worth it to be happy. I will forever be thankful for my mom, for giving me that little nugget of truth, and for forcing me to choose me and to choose happy. I’m sure she had no idea how profoundly it would impact my life, but it has. I choose happiness, every day. I choose Omaha. I choose home with Matt. I choose to visit my family, and love on my people, and then, return to Omaha. I choose my friends, new and old. I choose my job, even on the hard days. I choose my dogs (and all other dogs in the world). I choose happiness. And I choose home. πŸ’•

Plus, the best thing about home being a concept? It can exist anywhere. You can always go home.

Choose happy, go home. Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (I know it!).

Home #1
Home #2
Home #3.

HABIT(ches).

Habit is a bitch, I’m going to be honest. How much of a bummer is it that symptoms of anxiety, symptoms of OCD, symptoms of depression, boil down to a bunch of shitty, out of control and thoughtless… habits? (plus other stuff – but that’s not the point of this blog πŸ˜‰).

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one with destructive habits, but either way, I’m horrible at helping myself. Some of my habits and parts of my daily routine are destructive and not helpful. These parts of me are not healing. These habits and idiosyncrasies do not encourage me, or challenge me, or bring out the best in me. Some of my habits don’t actually improve me or my quality of life. In fact, many of my habits make me cranky and/or push my buttons, and feel insurmountable and defeating.

As part of my recovery from September 2020, and my quest to find true, genuine happiness for myself, I’ve realized.. some of these habits have got to go.

Habits are a bitch. They don’t want to go anywhere and they’re impossible to break up with.

I’m not talking about the dumb, little habits, the tiny intricacies that make you, you. Don’t give those up. I mean honestly, if you want to bite your nails.. that’s on you. It’s a habit. It’s hard to break. Trust me, it’s a constant battle for me. Currently, my fingers are bloody nubs. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ This habit I am less concerned about.

Cussing, too. It’s a habit. Supposedly a dirty one even.. but I don’t know, I stand by the fact that some situations really do just deserve the fbomb. You know when the moment is right. I’m not worried about habitual cussing.

Don’t get rid of the cute habits you have either- like the one that sounds like telling your loved ones to “get home safe and watch for deer” instead of goodbye. (Is this a Midwest only thing?🀣).

Don’t get rid of the good habits. For example, always wear your seatbelt. It should be a habit. If it’s not, make it one! If you work out, habitually, don’t stop.. especially on my accord. Just send some of that juju my way. 😝

The habits that I’m talking about are the negative habits, the ones that are deep seated in your brain, that are your gut reaction response. The habits that come out without thinking and wreck your day. For me, it’s the habit of talking badly to myself.

“Talking badly to myself” sounds so much kinder than what it really is.. a type of all out, knock-down war, internally, where the person losing is always me and there are no true winners. If anything, these moments fuel the brain, giving it more to pick apart and to judge later.

Yes, I’m talking about fighting with my own brain. My brain.. that I have SHAMELESSLY loved and supported, and grown and nourished, has turned against me. Okay fine, I’ll admit.. there were some serious knocks to the head (thanks Star! 🐎) but still.. an overall positive experience. My brain shouldn’t hate me, but for some reason it does.

It likes to point out all my mistakes. It likes to take away my victories by reminding me of my losses. It likes to think about worst-case-scenarios when I’m teetering on the edge of blissful, carefree happiness. My brain likes to distort my body before my eyes and it makes the mirror lie to me. It likes to wait until I’m quiet, and still, and relaxed, and then remind me of something I said but shouldn’t have, or a big project looming. It never notices what I’ve accomplished, only what I have missed. It never focuses on what I have learned, only on what I still don’t know. And it loves, and I do mean LOVES, to go over my mistakes, over and over and over again.

My brain is a bully, but it’s only a bully because I let it be. It’s habit. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

An inexcusable habit in my opinion. A habit in desperate need of reformation.

I know so many people out there struggle with negative self-talk , and honestly, my heart is with you. I wish I had a secret recipe for success. I wish I could just glue fake fingernails to my brain and break the habit (it works for biting fingernails!). But this one, it’s a bitch.. a lingering, clingy bitch. I don’t know how to make it go away. Do you? If so, tell me ASAP.

Until someone shares the secret to permanently breaking this habit to me in a few simple steps (which I am completely holding out for), I have some bad news. I don’t know how to get rid of the habit. BUT I am learning to curb it, to challenge it, to reshape it. I’m learning to make negative self talk less of a gut reaction and more of a conscious decision.

It’s a three step process.. but it’s not effortless and it doesn’t stop the negative self talk permanently. It’s something you have to work at for every second of every day, until you find your habits shifting. It’s not the solution for the lazy, or the people that want a simple process to an always successful result. It takes work, a lot of it:

  1. Pay attention to your thoughts. All of them. Even when you feel like being lazy or are not in the mood to work on yourself. You gotta catch yourself in the act.. a lot.
  2. Pause those thoughts. By pause, I mean, tell your brain to shape up or ship out. Refuse to let your brain tell you pointless, horrible, non-instructive bullshit, just because it wants too.
  3. Take a moment to genuinely think about those wins. Account for them. Pat yourself on the back. Think about what you learned or how you communicated better.

Like I said.. it’s not a cure, and more annoyingly, it take a lot of work. It takes a lot of time, sitting with yourself, breaking destructive thought-patterns, and learning (or relearning) how to be kind to yourself, how to respect yourself, and how to value yourself.

Build yourself up! Honor those victories! Remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished when the day felt impossible. Tell your brain to shut up. Break. The. Habit.

Habits are a bitch, but you don’t have to be. You, especially, don’t have to be a bitch to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that you are pretty and worthy and funny. Think about how far you’ve come in the last year. Don’t settle for what your brain tells you are your shortcomings or your failures. You know better.

This post isn’t as upbeat as I generally try to keep this blog, but I think it drops some hard truths.. and talks about something important. Negative self-talk is harmful! I’m so tired of it, it’s the nastiest habit. Want to join me on reshaping some of those thoughts and doubts? It’s time for some new habits.

Sunny daze ahead, friends. I just know it. 🌞

One dog, two dog; blue fish, blue fish (a bad Dr. Seuss rip off):

One time, Matt abandoned me. FOUR WHOLE DAYS. Just me, like a free-range chicken, with 96 hours wide open and not a plan in sight. Technically, he abandoned me AND the dogs, but they seemed way less hurt by the abandonment and carried on as life as normal so.. they don’t count as victims of his abandonment.

Okay, fine. It was for a bachelor party. But still 96 HOURS? Some people really just should not have that much time without their guiding light, their partner, and their low-key adult babysitter. 🀣.

Me. I’m talking about me. πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

It started out with a fish. A blue beta, named Dog. Matt refuses to allow my heart true happiness and keeps turning down every dog/puppy/rescue I think I need, so I got a fish and named him dog. I got my dog, dammit! I thought it was hilarious. Actually, I still think this is hilarious.

Humble brag: I’m kind of a fantastic fish owner. I’m one of those people that had betas that lived for years, moved houses, etc. I mean, sure.. there were a few unfortunate incidents like slamming into my windshield because of a quick stop, a quick jaunt down the garbage disposal (not on, thank God), an unintended visit in the dog’s mouth, and a near-death freezing event, but overall.. I have had great success with betas. I’ve had them on and off my entire life.

To be fair, betas are not challenging. You pretty much treat their water, feed them when you remember, and clean the tank sometimes. They are built with fortitude. They are perfect for the accident-prone πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

So with that as a background, imagine my SHOCK when Dog died within 24 hours of joining our home. I killed him. I put the water purifier in the tank, put him in the tank, and promptly went to sleep, dreaming of all the memories we would make together.

Then, at like 3 am, I jolted awake, confident I made a critical math error and that there was an insufficient amount of water purifier in the tank. I jumped out of bed, ran to the tank, scooped Dog out, added more purifier, and dropped him back in. All while patting myself of the back for being an amazing fish mom.

Unfortunately, a few hours later, I woke up and he was belly-up. Turns out I did the math right the first time. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ This failure didn’t deter me from my joke. I got out (IN A SNOW STORM) and found myself another beta, named it Dog. This one was a little uglier, but seemed to come from humbler roots and felt like a better fit to the family than Dog #1.

I was NOT going to suffocate Dog #2, so I followed the instructions perfectly. I didn’t even put Dog #2 in the tank until 24 hours after the water “settled”. Things were going great, Dog #2 truly was thriving.

Then lots of crazy shit, not relevant to this story happened, including a car exploding in our backyard, and before I knew it, 96 hours had passed and I was still a free-range chicken, just with its head chopped off.

Matt came home and thought my joke was pretty clever (if I do say so myself). We bonded as a family, things were going great. All was right in our world.

As we settled back into life as normal, Matt returned to his drumming, we worked, everything was fine. Then two days later, Dog #2 bellied up. It was unexpected and devastating. I had no warning.

I REFUSE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR DOG #2’S UNTIMELY DEATH. I’m convinced that the tank (which was directly above the music room) was effected by the drumming. Like the sound waves jostled his sanctuary and led to his demise. I have no idea if this has any scientific/intelligent backing at all, but I’m sticking with it. Matt says I overfed Dog #2. He is wrong. Probably.

So either way, we are now in a crisis; 2 “dogs” in a week. I’m not one to give up easily, but the thought of killing another fish wasn’t settling well. Matt recommended that I move the fish tank, so it was not directly above the music room (just in case I was actually right).

But here’s the thing, I liked where the fish tank was. It’s pretty, it fits the kitchen decoration scheme well, and honestly, it’s just really aesthetically pleasing.

So.. I bought fake fish. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

So far, they’re very low maintenance. They never need food (or get overfed), they are completely unbothered by the drums, and they don’t even make the tank a mess… and the aesthetic remains the same.

Fake fish, in a real tank, for a “certain” appearance. What a metaphor for life – I think we are all guilty of being fake (fish) for a prettier looking life (tank). I don’t know what to think of this whole fish/tank dilemma. I’m going to have to reflect on this whole metaphor for a while. I’m bothered by my superficiality, but like. not enough to.. not buy fake fish for my kitchen fish tank. At least, I’m being honest about my fake-ness, that has to give me some credibility points.

In the end, I guess we’re all just fake fish sometimes. Thus is life. One dog, two dog, blue fish, blue fish, and a whole pile of fake tropical fish.

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (probably). Don’t be fake fish, but if you are, at least be honest with yourself. 😝πŸ₯°

Trying something new: Meet Rachel!

Hi, hi, hello! How are you this beautiful Monday?! It’s 93Β° in Omaha and no one, and I do mean quite literally, NO ONE, is upset about it. What a great way to start the week! Otherwise.. not a lot new here. I generally pay it forward in the McDonald’s line on Monday, but today, someone paid it forward to me. That was kind of a special treat, kindness goes a LONG way, especially on Mondays.

So today, I thought we would do something a little different. My beautiful, confident, talented friend, Rachel G., has been writing for some time now. Unlike me, she kills it at the scene-setting and details. So, for fun (and because I’m supposed to be using this time to go through my clothes to give her), she’s hacking Sunny Daze. 🌞

My name is Rachel. I love writing in my free time. Some people have told me to really sit down and focus on writing a small chapter book, and then publish it. I’ve never been to proud of the writings I’ve done. After my creative writing class and the teacher told me to keep writing, I looked at all my writings and my mind set changed, and I’ve been so proud of it. Other than writing I love playing my guitar and making my pie music and songs, they usually aren’t great but they are fun to do! I have two amazing dogs at home, Daisy and Roxy. I love them to death. I did color guard all four years of high school, and I’ll be graduating soon! I can’t wait to go to college and start my life. I really want to become a EMT. I also would love to get an English major as well so if the EMT thing doesn’t work out then writing will. Oh, and I’m fascinated by space.

Fun fact: space freaks me (Ashley) the eff out!

Here’s a few of her short proses to share with you, and I (Ashley) can’t wait to share all your feedback and kind words with her! You guys really are the most supportive, and probably have so much more creative writing wisdom to provide than me. If nothing else, maybe we can convince her to start her own blog! ❀️

1 – My kingdom

Cecilia dropped to the cold, cobblestone ground and her head fell forward. β€œIt’s not fair.” She muttered the words through her frowning lips. Her sapphire eyes dull and dead as she looked at her hands that held her body up, as it was slowly getting harder to hold up. She started to feel her own arms giving in to the weight as the horses’ hooves drifted into the wind, blank, soundless, and gone. Her golden sun kissed hair draped around her shoulders as she just was still. Cecilia’s body shook as she gasped for air to fill her lungs, but it was pushed out by the tears that fought to leave her eyes. She sat back, her pink dress that once dazzled in the light was now dull, ripped, and discolored, like a grey sky after a bad storm.

2 – Forest whispers

The forest trees fluttered back and forth in the soft wind. As the branches groaned from being pushed the leaves from the branches happily danced. Following the bark down with its jagged lines that led to the ground and soft long green grass. Aurora's acoustics filtered back against her fluffy golden head. Her emerald hues floated over the shifting trees. The fea ran her pink ribbon over her nose once dry nose know, wet and cold. Slowly lifting her chestnut ears up with white tips to top it off she closed her emerald eyes listening, waiting then she heard it. The green trees around her whispering to her. Lifting a paw up from the warm grass to move her forward slowly she placed it back down the once golden step gulped in by the tall grass, with grace and silence. Reopening the rare colored optics she waved her fluffy, long tassel, the grass waved back at her as the wolf moved fourth into the thick forest.

3 – Home is where the block is

Adam looked around before noticing the street around him was still, no one in the next two mile radice, or at least that’s what the cubic wristband said. Used to the emptiness, and loving the fact of being alone he pulled a small block from his pocket out. The cube shifted in size from the small pocket to his hand and he tossed it back from his right to his left before letting it finally settle in the initial hand, his right. Now woken up by the rude gesture the block glowed a blue streak like the sapphires of a rock with a fading tail of sky blue to a whiteness like a cloud started to move. Not even moments later a red light chased the blue it to having a fading tail that was as white as a cloud. Both lights threatened to meet one another and once they sped up and met in the middle the block glowed purple and opened up in his hand.

Let us know what you think, sweet friends! Sunny daze ahead (always) 🌞

Don’t cry over spilt Mountain Dew.

I’m pretty sure that’s how the quote goes, or at least, it’s close enough for me. Who likes milk these days anyways?

The title hits close to home. I’ve had a WEEK at work, despite taking a vacation day Monday and it only being Wednesday. πŸ™ˆπŸ€£ it’s one of those “there’s 100 ways this issue could go right and be resolved, but we’re gonna find the little, tiny thread of DISASTER to pull on, and then tug and tug and tug on it, until your entire issue is basically a knotted ball of yarn, instead of the once clean and crisp sweater that it used to be and there is no foreseeable resolution/semblance of a sweater in sight” type of weeks.

I resigned myself to working this evening. The dogs were at daycare today, so they’ll be tired and I really do have to get stuff done. So I stopped to get myself a Mountain Dew on the way home, just a little treat for “trying my hardest”.

Then… I kid you not, I sit down, plug in my computer, and Brantley promptly gets tangled in the cords, throws my laptop across the floor, and dumps all 32 ounces of Mountain Dew on the floor. I thought about crying over the spilt Mountain Dew, I really did.

I mean, it probably would have turned into one of those “my dog died 6 years ago and my horse died 2 years ago and I have other pets that have died at some point in my life, and the world is sad, and everyone hates each other, and people are mean, and the news is depressing, and Covid is still killing people, and I just hate being an adult” rambling type of cries, but I just really don’t need it. you don’t need it either. Don’t cry over spilt Mountain Dew.

So now, I’m in the bathtub, with lavender Dr. Teal’s, getting my freaking wooosahhhh on. Instead of crying, I have some really important stuff to tell you guys. Like late-breaking thoughts that I think everyone should know, including you, my sunny-dazers:

1. Avocado toast is just really not that good. I don’t care if you slice the avocado, mash the avocado, or sprinkle seasonings all over the avocado. At the end of the day, you’re eating plain bread, with the world’s plainest flavored vegetable/fruit (which side do you align?) mashed on top, with a sprinkle of flavor (like a la croix – “somewhere near an “everything bagel” seasoning factory”).It’s a textural nightmare. I’m not gonna fake it anymore.

2. Charcuterie boards: I love, love, love the idea of them. But there’s approximately one thing I will eat on any given board. Plain salami. I don’t even like the cheese, it smells. That being said, I take it upon myself to bring a charcuterie board with me to all social settings. I have no idea why. It makes me feel sophisticated. Normally I leave a lunchable in the truck, so I can enjoy normal ham, cheese and crackers without judgment from my swanky-ass friends.

2a. Plus charcuterie boards are expensive. Like I’ll spend a quick fifty on ridiculous cheese balls and nasty stuffed olives and candied okra, but I’ll be damned if any of that even gets the within a foot of my mouth. No. Thank. You. Your complex and adult-like taste buds might make me hurl. Let’s normalize lunchables again.

3. I’m the level of petty that if my dogs have been at daycare for more than an hour and 0 pictures of them have been added to Facebook, I go through and “love” all the other dog photos in a super passive-aggressive way. It has quite literally never worked in my favor, but somehow, I feel like I’m winning. (No one tell me that they don’t care or even notice, I need this win).

4. The throwing of bridal bouquets should be banned. It’s DANGEROUS. See below for proof. People get too competitive and inevitably end up injured. (People = me). If I ever get married, the practice ends with ME. 🀣

I’m the one flying.

5. My dog recently got sent home from daycare for urinating on goats. As in, she wouldn’t stop following the goats around and peeing on them when they stood still. 😳That’s really all I have to say about that.

6. I semi-befriended a work goose, because everyone kept trying to get me to get him to go away. He was not very nice and I wasn’t overly thrilled with the task. Someone (not me) was feeding him, so he wasn’t going anywhere and he would chase people in and out of the building. I took a couple of personal days, and now he’s gone. I’m convinced someone killed him while I wasn’t looking and I think I am expected to be more upset than I am.

7. I was told I was a “very good flying partner” on Monday, because I sat in my chair, did not move, listened to my podcast and minded my own. It was very sweet to hear, but I think my seat partner thought I was like 12. I didn’t break it to him that I generally sit still and don’t ask random strangers for entertainment. Regardless, his relief was palpable – so I am glad I was able to be that for him.

8. A 55 year old man at the airport slipped me his number on a napkin and told me to text him. I asked him if he was planning on giving me marriage advice. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ guess he forgot about his wedding ring. We were almost friends, gosh darn it! Sneaky, sneaky Ashley B!

9. I recently started watching The Mentalist. So far, I like it. Will I finish it? Doubtful. It goes against everything I am as a show-binger to finish any particular series. 🀣

Guys, the world is a mess. No one is getting along. Feelings are hurt, arguments are heated, and aggression is rampant. There are quite literally people killing one another (and/or strangers) over bad days and depression. Don’t cry over the spilt Mountain Dew. There’s a lot bigger issues out there, and if that the worst you have to deal with right now, you’re doing pretty well. I’m thinking of all of you, sending you my lavender wooosahhhh vibes, and praying your dog doesn’t pee on a goat (it really is quite embarrassing). We can do this. Summer is coming, trees are blooming, and there really are sunny daze ahead (probably).

A series of seemingly unrelated events that almost created a catastrophe: a story of sorts.

You. All. BUCKLE UP. I have an “Ashley-only” type of story to share with you, the kind that seems unbelievable, that involves like 900 seemingly unrelated parts, but still.. somehow ends up related, disturbing, and sort of hilarious. I’m actually super proud of this particular story, because while it’s absolutely Ashley-esque, Matt is the protagonist of this particular scenario. My outrageousness is rubbing off and there’s no one I’d rather share it with. Bless his precious soul. πŸ˜‰

So, to start: last week, the dogs had a stomach bug, a butt bug really. Poop was running rampant in our house. You really never realize how much 3 dogs can shit, until they’re all shitting their brains out nonstop. Like 6 months ago, I had bought a white rug for our living room (which LOL what was I thinking?!). This rug became a favorite spot for bowel emptying. It was quite literally shittastic. So much so, that we ultimately decided to just trash the entire thing.

Matt, being a real trooper, carries it out to the trash and gets the cans set up for pick up the next day.

Fun fact: apparently garbage day recently changed. We keep getting letters from our trash collectors, but Matt and I are in agreement… surely they do not actually need to talk to us. TO THE TRASH THEY GO.

Hint: you may miss important updates like CHANGED trash days, if you continue to ignore their correspondence efforts. 🀣Whatever. We figured we missed a day and had some weird national holiday on Monday or something and the trash would be picked up.. eventually. It was of little to no consequence, we just needed the shit rug ELSEWHERE. πŸ’©

Next up, Friday. I have work, like a lot of work. It’s an overwhelming and busy day, and I have to head straight to KC for a bachelorette party after work. Due to the busyness and my inability to manage stress well, I decide that I don’t want to get up from my desk too long for lunch. So I ordered Panera and have it delivered. I have the app that lets you monitor the order progression and updates you when your order is delivered.

So.. I’m watching the order get closer and closer. Then all of a sudden, it is marked delivered. ZERO PANERA WAS DELIVERED. I was stressed out and took it as a sign that I didn’t need the lunch break. But not before calling them and chewing them out for failing to deliver to the right address.

A few hours later, I get to KC. bachelorette Saturday. Side note: took a pole dancing class. That is not a missed calling me for me 😳. This is actually strangely reassuring to know.

Saturday night I get a text from Matt that said: “I didn’t appreciate how I discovered it, but you ordered Panera. You should have told me, I would have at least ate it.” He thought I drunkenly ordered Panera at this bachelorette party and failed to have it delivered to my location.

but no, I IMMEDIATELY realize my Friday Panera… was delivered to the house NOT the office. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ also this was two days ago. The odor. 🀒

Given his text, I assumed that he stepped in it to be honest. He always has friends over to jam and as we know, NEVER LOOKS AT THE DOOR MAT, so I honestly thought someone stepped in my stinky soup and that was that. I kind of thought it was funny. I do the laundry. It was going to be FINE.

WRONG. Turns out our neighbors either like us more than we were lead to believe.. or they’re super nosy. Apparently, the trash can still on the sidewalk, the two day old Panera on the porch, and my missing truck had stirred up some nerves.

No, no Matt did not step in my soup. He was greeted at the door by SWAT, with the battering ram, about to bust down our front door.

They call this a “wellness check”. 😬. Turns out, when Matt has his headphones on, he can’t hear anything, like knocking or “POLICE” being screamed around our house. Our dogs, bless their souls, were appalled by the turn of events. They were trying to dive through the windows at the cops “sneaking around our house”. Protection level 900 purportedly looks very similar to “our owners are dead and we have consumed their bodies”.

So, like .0032 seconds before they bust down our door, and “neutralize our dogs” (which I am pretending just means give them treats and snuggles, instead of what I know that means), Matt gets a text from our next door neighbor to see if “everything is alright because there are cops all over our yard, casing the place”. Matt is none the wiser, he’s been in his musician world, and just noticed the dogs were barking “excessively”. Matt RUNS upstairs, talks to the police, and resolves the issue.

He did tell them that this is why I can never leave town, and they were VERY interested to know where I was, if we were fighting, and if he had killed me. πŸ˜…. These cops really thought they were coming up on the newest episode of forensic files. I may have to call tomorrow and assure everyone that I am alive and well.

All the while, I’m in KC, pole-dancing (badly), trying gross wine, and blissfully unaware. But still lowkey pissed about my Panera never showing up on Friday.

Don’t worry, I’ll be calling Panera tomorrow to pay for my meal again. πŸ™ˆ. But my Lord, all that drama for a bowl of soup!

On a more positive note: it’s nice to know we have someone keeping an eye on us in our neighborhood. I think if I figure out who called.. I’ll just give them my cell number.

Sunny daze ahead sweet friends, stay alive. 🌞πŸ€ͺ

Yes. That is the bride and groom tattooed to my FACE. 🀣