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 🀣. 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. 😘

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 πŸ˜‰ Regardless of who’s fault it is (Matt’s πŸ€ͺ) 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. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ 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. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

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). 🌞

THE BEST OF THE BEST
Soul = cleansed

A lawyer: 3 years later

Facebook memories have a way of building you up, tearing you down, or just plain kicking your ass. Or sometimes, they just…really, really age you. Facebook reminded me the other day that it’s been 3 years, THREE YEARS, since I was sworn into the Missouri bar. While it was one of my life highlights, and one of my best days, it still absolutely blows my mind that I’ve been a lawyer for three years. More importantly, I have been fixing real peoples’ real life problems, for THREE YEARS. I’m still not convinced that I have the knowledge, the wherewithal, the experience, or the talent to help anyone, let alone a bunch of strangers… but here I am: 3 years out.

If I could go back to little fresh-faced, angel baby, newly minted-attorney Ashley, this is what I would tell myself:

1. Confidence will take you far, even fake confidence. You don’t have to be positive that you are right, you just have to say your decision or conclusion confidently. Really sell it. Afterwards, run to the internet and pray to the Lord that your confidence paid off.

2. Speaking of internet, the internet is your friend. It is insane how much law you DON’T know. You’ll seriously question if you learned anything in law school.. frequently, but you’ll come to realize, you learned how to find information. Lawyers find information, digest information, and throw it up in a comprehensible blob of helpfulness. At least, hopefully.

3. Traffic laws should have been taught in law school. WHY ARE THEY NOT TAUGHT IN LAW SCHOOL?! 98% of the questions that will come your way will be about how to get out of a speeding ticket or lessen a DUI charge.. and you’ll be none the wiser. Again, the internet IS your friend.

4. Speaking of friends, they’ll come out of the woodworks. Truly. It’s amazing who suddenly wants to be friends when they think free legal advice may be an added perk.. especially when they are in a wee bit of trouble. It never hurts to be a friend, even with someone who has just so conveniently decided they liked you for the first time in their life. Good karma is a real thing – be a helper.

5. Speaking of friends again, don’t burn bridges – especially professional bridges. As many lawyers as there are out there, the lawyer-world really is so small. Everyone knows someone, and at least half of the someones out there, are important… and potentially hiring. Be on your best behavior. Always.

6. The customer is not always right; however, it is in the best interest of ALL parties if you pretend like they are. Pretend the customer is right and can do no wrong, then clean up the mess later. Preferably when no one, including the customer, is still involved.

7. No one should be able to contact you and receive an immediate response. Ever. The sense of immediacy that our world is subject to is concerning, and honestly, a little heartbreaking. A voicemail never hurt anyone… especially when you aren’t ENTIRELY sure what someone is calling for to begin with. Listen to the voicemail, collect your thoughts, and then call back. Whatever you do… do not answer and start rambling.

8. You’re a lawyer, get the contract in writing, you know better. Trusting that humanity is going to do what they say they are going to is just naive, and I promise you, it’ll end up kicking your ass. Just ask me, I’m 6 months out of a “house project” that hasn’t been completed and I still have NO doorknobs. I knew better. I know better, but here we are πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ. If law school teaches you anything, it is to trust no one, especially mankind.

9. Law and Order really isn’t that bad of a resource. At least to a contract attorney that practices literally no litigation whatsoever, it seems pretty spot on. I know more about objections and hearsay evidence than I ever did in evidence class.

10. The best way to handle a client that is not being “all that patient” is to continually thank them for their continued patience. No one knows how to respond when they are getting thanked for something they KNOW they are not worthy of being thanked for. It works. I promise. People inherently don’t want to be dicks.. at least, I don’t think so.

11. People aren’t kind. I refuse to believe that the world, as a whole, is generally unkind, but there are several people out there that are not kind. It has less to do with you than you think, don’t flatter yourself. Suck it up, staple on the fake smile, and be kind anyways. It never hurts to be the bigger person.

12. You’ll be wrong. A lot. In fact, if you follow my advice, you’ll be CONFIDENTLY wrong. Be equally as confidently humble and as confidently ready to learn more. Confidently admit you’re wrong or you missed the mark, and move on. You win some, you lose some. It’s a way of life.

13. There will always be work. Always. There will not always be perfect rottie mix rescues, or your parents, or your fiancΓ© and vacations. Separate them. Two separate worlds for two completely different times of day. Honor both/all roles you play, and play each one of them, 100%. Work hard, but leave work at work.

14. Common sense will take you as far, if not further, than confidence. Use your brain. It’s an underutilized tool in today’s day and age, but it’ll rarely steer you wrong. Use it as a basis for all your communications and all your argumentation. The entire world would benefit from more usage of common sense, so don’t be afraid to lead by example.

15. Breathe. The situation is never as bad as it seems, the solution is never as far off as it seems, and you’re more capable than you believe. After all, you’re the professional here.

I don’t have it all together. In fact, I’d be willing to bet I have it together less than 20% of the time. But I’m a scattered, confident mess, that always wants to get better. I can admit I am wrong, and I want to know how to be and do better. Being an attorney is hard work, but it’s important work, and inspiring work, and humbling work. I am proud of myself – there has been a lot of growth in the last three years.

So, if you’ve ever considered it (it=being a lawyer), I guess I recommend it. If nothing else… it’s a good mental exercise. You’ll learn a lot about yourself.. and who doesn’t want to know more about themselves? Am I right, friends?

There are sunny daze ahead, my friends (probably). I’ll see you there. 🌞

Sunshine and Rainbows

I wish I could say that life has been sunshine and rainbows since my last post (which was kind of a bummer- sorry about that btw), but alas, THAT WOULD BE A LIE. My dog has tried dying on me, twice, in the last week.

No seriously, turns out her “kennel cough” symptoms were actually signs that her chest cavity was filling with fluid, surrounding a probable tumor, in her lung. We thought we were going to lose her Friday. Then, today was the “we need to see improvement or we need to discuss quality of life” day.

AND WE SAW IMPROVEMENT. πŸ‘πŸ»

Lucy is still very sick, but she’s improving. We are hoping to get the fluid out of her chest cavity so that we can get a good look at what is going on with her lungs. It is only after that that we will find out if there is anything we can do. So yes, if you’re curious, I’m exhausted. We have been in full blown CRISIS mode for a week now and it has been a roller coaster. But like, not a fun one.

So no, I’m sorry to say, it has not been all sunshine and rainbows over here. At the same time, it also hasn’t been torrential downpours of endless bullshit 24/7 either, and I think that needs acknowledged.

When we got the news that Lucy’s chest was filling with fluid, my mom dropped everything she was doing and drove straight to Omaha… and has not left. My mom is my absolute favorite person (don’t tell Matt or my dad), so this a big win. It is hard to beat coming home to your THREE (Matt, my mom, and Lucy) best friends and spending quality time together. Plus my mom cooks for us.. and cleans.. and basically is just an angel. The world is a better place because my mom is in it. She is sunshine.

Wedding planning is happening, like it or not! I do.. like it… by the way. We have a date β˜‘οΈ we have a venue (I literally want to live at our venue) β˜‘οΈ. The groomsmen have been identified β˜‘οΈ. I have asked all my bridesmaids to participate (and importantly, they all accepted) β˜‘οΈ. We have a photographer, a videographer and a DJ β˜‘οΈ. The bachelorette party is planned β˜‘οΈ the bachelor party is… meh.. I think they need a little helpπŸ™ƒπŸ€£. We are reviewing menus as I type and engagement photos are scheduled. I meet with a florist next week! Basically, despite it all… things are happening, and it’s exciting! This is one gigantic rainbow of relief. 🌈

Also: have you seen the new fad where people are having their grandmothers be their flower girls?! I NEED ADVICE ON HOW TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN. Granny, while a ray of sunshine, might kill me when I ask. ☺️

I got off soda.. FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH. ⭐️ yup, the girl that drinks like 64 ounces of Mountain Dew a day, kicked the habit. Lost 10 pounds. I have to admit, I’ve picked back up the habit (it’s a comfort for me) in the midst of all of this Lucy drama. But I know I can do it, and I will do it again, and it will be great. That is pretty, damn, sunshine-y to me.

My truck got “broken into” in the work parking lot in the middle of the day. I use the phrase “broken into” EXTREMELY loosely, because my dumb self left the door unlocked. I know this seems like a rain cloud, but truly, the thieves got like $3.00 in change, earrings I’m allergic to (and that are fake), a few disposable masks, and the coin holder in my center console. I would have given them the money, but I wish I didn’t have to replace the center console thingy. I have a feeling Ford won’t be entertained by my “I’m so silly, I left my door unlocked because I trusted humanity” story.

Regardless, how lucky am I? That’s ALL that was taken. I cannot tell you how many times I have kept important/life documents in my center console.. or a bunch of cash. It could have been worse. Plus, these thieves were kind of sweet and considerate, they left all my handwritten notes from my dad in my passenger seat. They had to take them out of the coin holder, which I know took a small version of effort, and I appreciate that. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Thieves with half a heart? I’ll take it. If that’s not at least a little rainbow-y to you, then you are just looking for the rain.

I went to the dentist for the first time, in over 3 years, expecting the worst.

1. I hate the dentist

2. My teeth hate me

But, in a reverse psychology, “I love you , Ashley” move from the universe, I had no cavities and only have to get ONE tooth fixed. This tooth has been broken for years (dentists out there, don’t hate me πŸ™ƒ, I promise I’ll be better). Again, I’ll take it! I felt like Oprah, handing out rays of sunshine to all after this victory!

Yes, work is hard, but I have a job, which THANK GOD with these vet bills. Watching Lucy struggle more than normal is tough, but she’s medicated and comfortable (the vet promised me – we take quality of life very seriously in this household), and now we get bonus time. I have vet bills, but it’s because my Lucy is still with me and still fighting. My schedule is packed, but it’s because I am planning what promises to be the most beautiful and fun wedding. My mouth is sore, but it’s clean and healthy. I am down a coin dispenser, but I’m up a valuable lesson on LOCKING YOUR DOORS. I’m tired, but I’ve spent more time with my mom, Matt and Lucy than I normally do.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows friends, but it doesn’t all suck either. Sometimes, I need the reminder. Here is yours, you can thank me later. πŸ˜‰

Now, cuddle those pups and say a quick prayer for mine. πŸ’• That is what I will be doing. We’re all about cuddles and people food snacks at this house at this particular moment. Give yourself, and others, a little grace, times are tough.

There are sunny daze ahead friends, I promise. But in the meantime, you may have to look extra hard for those sunshine rays and those mini rainbows. They are there, whether you recognize and appreciate them or not 🌞🌈

My sunshine 🌞

heaviness

Everything is heavy right now. The world is just heavy. You can’t turn on the tv, or scroll through Facebook, without being reminded of that absolute terror and shambles half our world is stuck in. I mean honestly, it’s a constant stream of vaccination debates/booster debates, a seemingly never-ending list of virus variants, the contentious mask debacle, alarming death rates… and that’s just covering the COVID drama. Then we have Afghanistan, and the Taliban, and differing opinions on how the current president is handling things. Add in the anxiety for the trapped Americans, our stuck allies, and the concern for the well-being of all women and children in Afghanistan, and pretty soon, your stomach is in knots over the entire Middle East. All of that heaviness isn’t even considering poor Haiti, and the utter destruction that they are living in, since the earthquake ravaged their country. More than half of the Haitians that were displaced by the earthquake.. ARE STILL DISPLACED weeks later. Who knows if they have clean water or access to medical care?

And… if you’re like me, it’s heavy. The struggles of others and the plight of some of our fellow human beings physically HURTS my heart. Part of me feels guilty, because I am truly taking these events to heart and it is negatively impacting my mood, yet I have a home over my head, I have medical care as needed, I’m permitted (and encouraged in my country) to be educated and to have a profession. I have my independence, I am a free thinker, and I have privileges that I try to never take for granted.

And.. if you’re like me.. this guilt is just so incredibly heavy too. No one likes a person with the victim mentality — and here I am, heart hurting like I AM the victim.

I’ve come to realize, some hearts just feel more. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I do believe that there are some people who take on and grieve for others, even unknown, because that is simply the inner-workings of their soul.

Instead of feeling guilty about my heart, I’m embracing it. Instead of trying to remind myself that I have no reason to hurt and no reason to grieve, I’m letting myself feel the feelings. I am sad for all of the loss and anxiety that Covid-19 (and variants) have caused. I’m sad that Covid-19 had divided our country, that friends are being lost over vaccination statuses and mask preferences. I’m sad that some of my dearest friends have lost loved ones to this illness, and right now, the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. A solution feels so far off.. and that makes me sad.

I’m heartbroken regarding the state of affairs in Afghanistan. I think no matter what side you align politically, the situation is devastating. I’m worried for our military and our veterans, I’m worried for our military families. I hate that they are in this position and I feel so incredibly sick to my stomach imagining how they must feel. My heart breaks for our allies, who very well may be in danger now, simply for helping us for the last two decades. I’m worried for their well-being and I don’t even know them. I am absolutely crushed to read about the conditions that women and children may face in a Taliban-ran Afghanistan. Tears well up in my eyes when I think about women being afraid to go outside or destroying evidence of their hard-earned education.

The tears have openly flowed for the Haitians, because I want to be able to help, but the need for help is so much greater than me. A lump catches in my throat when I think about the displaced families, and the lost family members, and the injured or ill. I feel breathless when I think about the absolute atrocity their country is facing and what their children must be witnessing. The devastation is unimaginable, and that.. is heartbreakingly heavy.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be worried. Even if you are crying in your perfectly air conditioned home, that is stocked with good food and clean water, and living an absolute blessed life. For me, the trick is to feel all the feels and then… let go of the heaviness. It is not mine to carry. At least, not long term.

And carrying it around doesn’t change anything. It just causes anxiety and fatigue. It causes stomachaches and heartaches and all other kinds of aches. It causes loss of perspective, and a failure to exercise gratitude, and morale plummeting. You start to believe the worst in humanity and lose faith in what you know to be pure and true; things like love, and kindness, and equality. You lose sight of what matters, and the acts of kindness you witness, because all you can see is hatred, and heartbreak, and devastation. You forget your blessings.

Put down the weight, it’s not yours to carry. At least, it’s not solely yours to carry. Take care of your heart, friends. Feel the feelings, worry, pray, well wish, empathize, volunteer, donate, and do whatever you can to help, but don’t try to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s much too heavy.

And in the meantime, I’m here for you. ❀️

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (probably).

It’s easier to have a BADitude.

There. I said it. It’s easier to have a bad attitude than a good one – a baditude if you will. (I did not coin this, I have no idea who did, but if it was you, consider this your personal shout out). Sometimes, I have a baditude. I’m happy, but my attitude can still suck. I’ve been trying to figure out how I get myself entrenched in baditude-land (a much shittier version of Disney land) and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is simply easier.

It’s easier to believe rumors and lies and your own misinterpretations than it is to challenge yourself and your deep-rooted beliefs. It’s easier to assume that your presumptions are right, than it is to trust what you are actually seeing firsthand.

It’s easier to take what people say as a big fat truth of life than it is to remind yourself that their opinion is smaller than a grain of salt in the scheme of things.

It’s easier to assume you’re just disliked, for no reason at all, than it is to own up to your mistakes.

It’s easier to play the victim than it is to be the story’s hero.

It’s easier to wake up, have a bad moment, and call it a bad day than it is to brush it off as a bad five minutes, count your blessings, and do something to turn your day around.

It’s easier to read/hear emails and texts (and even conversations) in tones to fit your narrative than it is to stay true to actual narrative.

It’s easier to brush someone off as mad, or upset, or even crazy, than it is to take a moment to check in with your friends, and even those strangers, that really might need a friend and just a tiny bit of validation.

It’s easier to avoid sad people, so you don’t feel sad yourself.

It’s easier to see the flaws in others, than it is to admit you may, just possibly, be a little flawed yourself.

It’s easier to believe the stories you make up in your head and your baseless conclusions than it is to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

It’s definitely easier to sit in bed and watch other people’s lives unfold, as they work toward their dreams and goals, instead of getting up and doing the work for your goals yourself.

It’s easier to feel sorry for yourself than it is to feel proud of yourself.

It’s easier to plan to do better and to be better, than it is to actually do better and be better.

It’s easier to assume the worst, to expect the least, and to always be prepared for disappointment – whether it be from yourself or others, than it is to practice optimism and having faith.

It’s easier to get mad and lash out than it is to admit that you are hurt and be upset.

It’s easier to hold grudges and stay mad than it is to forgive… and then actually practice that forgiveness.

It’s easier to just “be sad” than it is to actively pursue what makes you happy.

It’s easier to not pursue your goals and to abstain from your passions than it is to face the possibility of disappointing yourself.

It’s easier to assume you cannot, instead of proving to yourself that you can.

But… easier isn’t always better, my friends.

To illustrate: it’s easier to rack up credit card debt than it is to pay it off. It’s easier to buy the puppy than it is to actually train the puppy. It’s easier to assume your dental hygiene is fine than it is to go to the dentist. IT IS EASIER TO FAKE PLAN YOUR PINTEREST PERFECT WEDDING THAN IT IS TO ACTUALLY PLAN THAT M-FER. But still, that doesn’t make these things right, or fair, or even justified. Woe is reality.

Take the road less traveled. It will not be easy, it will not have the footprints of the predecessors before us, who opted for simple. It will have obstacles like tragedy, and frustration, and disappointment. It will have distractions like gossip, and misinterpretations, and hurt feelings. It will take work, it will take dedication. But wouldn’t you rather be proud of yourself than tired of yourself?

I would.

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (most likely). 🌞

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, as 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.