To be or not to be.. present

Hello, hi, so sorry for your (favorite) bloggerina’s minor disappearance. LOL @ all of you that thought I finally gave up and realized that I suck at blogging or those of you that didn’t realize I was gone at all – surprise, I’M BACK BABY! I’d like to say I’ve been up to something really exciting or that I have some brilliant new life outlook to share with you, but to be honest; I’ve just been super busy. My phone “reminded” me last night that I hadn’t made a blog post in over 10 days. I don’t remember setting this reminder – but it was a good reminder to get. Sunny daze is here to remind me to focus on the sunshine, to make the sunshine, and to be the sunshine, and truly, I’m feeling a bit like a rain cloud these days.

I haven’t been doing as well as I was. I feel myself slipping back into my anxious thoughts, moments of self-doubt, and my old OCD habits are rearing their ugly heads. I’m experiencing a lot of worrying about things I can’t control, gravitating towards other people’s drama (to try to fix it – instead of focusing on fixing my own issues), and just tiredness. I feel incredible burn out: work burn out, friendship burn out, dog parenting burn out, being Ashley Bee burnout. Please don’t interpret this as me being ungrateful for all I have in my life, I know, without a doubt, I am so blessed. Also. please, please don’t take this as a cry for help. I am not suicidal. I’m just feeling… tired, and that’s okay.

Some of it is legitimate: I have fought with the DMV for two months, finally got my truck registered, and walk out to a huge crack on my windshield. Wtf is up with that?! 🀬

My dogs, both Lucy and Zeppelyn, have had a stomach virus from daycare. It has created a mess. We have 90% hardwood floors in our house and 0% of their vomit or poop has made it to the hardwood. They also aren’t sleeping through the night without potty breaks. They don’t want to eat and my brain just feels like it is approximately .0032 seconds away from the “Harley stopped eating, Harley threw up, Harley got cancer, Harley died 7 days later” spiral. PS: the girls have both been to the doctor and are medicated/eating. For whatever reason, my brain just won’t accept that we don’t need to continue to worry. 😩 it’s a work in progress.

➑️. Quick shout out to all you real parents: I have no idea how you do it. I have never been more preoccupied by another being’s bowel movements than I have this week. Real tears have been shed, my friends. I cannot handle this kind of worry πŸ₯Ί

Work is insane, the clients are impatient, and I’m struggling to keep up.

Our house is under construction, but only part time – so it’s mostly just a mess.

This weather makes me miss my horse. God, do I miss my freaking horse.

But maybe, the most tellingly anomaly to me, is the fact that this is my favorite time of year, and I have so much to be happy about and excited for, but I’m simply looking at everything in my life as a giant check mark.

βœ… task complete, onto the next one.

I’ve been talking about sitting on the back porch drinking a beer and enjoying the sunshine and a good book for months. I’ve been excited to sit by my parents pool and enjoy their backyard in the spring. I’ve had events that are finally coming to fruition, that I couldn’t wait for, and now.. it’s just a task. Even the construction on our house, I have been planning for months.. and now it’s burdensome.

I’m not “present” and I hate it. This is one of my least favorite attributes that I see in myself and I can really go down a rabbit hole thinking of all the things I have missed while planning for the next big thing/event/step. It drives me crazy! I want, so badly, to slow down; enjoy the day to day, relish the moment, live for the present, (a bunch of other clichΓ©s), but I’m struggling.

The problem with not being present is that you never truly enjoy anything. You never give your full attention or heart to your passions, your daily life, or to the people and places that you love. You are always thinking about the next move to make, the next friendship to cultivate, the next accomplishment or goal to reach for, and you miss the right now. Or at least; I do.

Missing right now is exhausting in its own right, because you get stuck in a perpetual cycle of half-assmanship (or womanship). Trying hard(ish) at friendships, giving it (mostly) your all at home making. Being the best dog mom you can be, when you’re motivated. Working out and taking your fitness seriously… when it’s convenient. It’s the best way to create a goal-oriented quitter.

You will always be striving for somewhere else or something different, and even when you reach it and/accomplish those goals, you still won’t enjoy it, because you’ll already have your sights set on something else.

I created sunny daze to help keep me present. To remind myself of the sunshine: my mom visited this week, the girls ARE doing better, we finally started on our house construction, Matt and I have shared a lot of fun “jam nights” lately, I made a freaking bombtastic dinner last night, the trees are BLOOMING, the grass is soft beneath my feet. My truck and I are officially Nebraskans. My new insurance may cover my cracked windshield. My mom and I got an awesome pedicure together. I get to celebrate a dear friend’s bachelorette party tomorrow and do my first brewery tour! I have the privilege of spending the rest of the weekend relaxing with my parents. I get to take a few days off work next week to celebrate another dear friend’s marriage. Shoot, I’m even getting a break from dog duty – and Lord am i excited to sleep this weekend!

Things are good. These are not tasks. They are joy-bringers, passion-inciters, and a pivotal part of the “right now”. They deserve more than a check mark — and I deserve to get more out of the experience than another “accomplished task”.

My challenge this week (and every week), but especially this week.. is to put myself and my heart 100% into everything I do and to be present. My heart and my mind are both so much happier in a present state of mind – and I don’t want to miss out on the right now, for the maybe later. I’ve spent far too much time stuck in that frame of mind.

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends. Be present. ❀️

Shut your damn mouth πŸ€

One of the hardest parts of adulthood, and honestly, even just growing up, has been controlling this mouth of mine. It runs faster than my brain and apparently enjoys my foot in it. It gets me in trouble, again and again and again. I remember one time, as a small-ish child, I was taunting my neighbor/BFF over the fence, and her mom came out and scolded me, telling me to leave her alone. Even more clearly, I remember looking her mom in the eye and saying “it’s a free world.” I was probably 6-8 years old.

In my lifetime, I have made bad first impressions.. and second impressions… and probably third and fourth. I’ve overshared (arguably this blog is the best example of this πŸ˜…). I’ve defended the wrong people and picked the wrong side. I’ve alienated family members, because I didn’t like the way they treated someone I loved. I’ve hurt feelings, I’ve hurt the feelings of people I love. I have taken the blame for things I didn’t do, because I thought I was protecting someone I cared about. I’ve said things I think are helpful, only to have it twisted around and used against me. I’ve put people I love in positions that they have to make choices that they shouldn’t have had to make. I’ve asked people I love to choose sides. I’ve said things I wish I hadn’t and that I’m not proud of. I’ve said things that go against the very core of who I am as a person.

It’s not like I spew malice (or at least, I don’t think I do). I am just defensive. I’m an A+ student in protection 101. I have a clear idea of right and wrong. I have high expectations for friends. But I try to hold myself to the same standards. I try my best to be a good friend. I try to protect my loved ones, my advice (while maybe worded poorly) comes from a good heart, my opinions are (sometimes) well-founded, my heart is always sincere… it just hasn’t always caught up to my brain yet.

But I’ve also said things to be polite, to seem kind, that I didn’t really mean. I’ve said things to get validation from people I don’t really care about or need validation from. I’ve been fake, I’ve told white lies, I’ve complimented people for things are less than compliment-worthy

With all that in mind, i remember clear as day when I looked up at my friend’s mother and said “it’s a free world.” My neighbor’s mom looked me dead in the eye and said “not for kids” and this moment has always stuck with me.

I dislike being told no. I especially disliked being told no or that I was wrong at that age. I was humbled, but more pissed. But that’s not why it’s stuck with me. The questionable implications of an individual’s constitutional rights that give way in the statement don’t bother me either (maybe this is a topic for a different time). It’s the bigger picture, it’s the fact that she’s right, you can’t (kids or otherwise), just say anything without consequences. The world is not free from your words and your words, whether uttered when angry, when drunk, when hurt, or when embarrassed, don’t get a free pass either.

At the end of the day:

  • Your opinion is yours and yours alone. Maybe you can convert someone, but probably not. You can definitely alienate someone though.
  • Most people don’t actually want your opinions and if they do, you’ll know. They’ll say something like “yo Ashley, I really want your honest opinion.”
  • It’s almost never a battle of right and wrong. But it is almost always a battle of feelings. Winning an argument, won’t ever assuage the hurt feelings.
  • Impressions are important. Don’t blow them, or you’ll end up lonely in a group of people. Trust me: This one I know.
  • If it’s not your story, you don’t get to share it. I don’t care if you have permission. I don’t care if you “know what’s best.” Share your own story and make it count.
  • There’s nothing wrong with white lies and compliments. There IS something wrong with white lies and compliments to get white lies and compliments in return. If you need validation, validate yourself. You are beautiful. You are smart. You are kind. You are a goal setter and dream-achiever.
  • Share your truth, but to the right people. The people that will hear you, hear the thoughts behind those words, and hear the emotion behind those words. There are some people that don’t deserve your truth. Don’t give it away freely.
  • Defend your friends how you would want to be defended, but understand that they may defend you differently. Don’t hold it against them.
  • While we’re at it, admit that others may not have the heart you have. That is okay. You can still do right by your heart, and just know, it won’t be reciprocated.
  • Don’t get snarky. It doesn’t help anyone. And those snide little comments only feel good for a couple of seconds before you feel like an absolute garbage person.
  • Understand that you aren’t going to be heard the same way you hear yourself. Understand that some people are listening with their heart instead of their brain. Understand that your meanings and thoughts can be twisted, even on accident.
  • People are always going to hear what they hear – no matter what you say to them.
  • Be honest with yourself and be honest with others. Tell someone that your feelings are hurt, but be willing to hear that you may have hurt someone else’s feelings too. Communication is a two-way street. If you’re the only talking, you’ve failed to communicate. You’re lecturing.
  • Admit when you’re wrong and when you’ve been hurtful or when you could have handled something better. Use the words I’m sorry, but mean them.
  • Don’t fall on the blade so someone else can avoid consequences. They won’t do the same for you, and years later, you’ll still be wondering if you made the right decision.

Basically, keep your damn mouth shut. Speak with your brain, not your heart. Or if you’re going to speak with your heart, let your brain catch up. The heart is a fickle being, it can say things it doesn’t mean, phrase things in a way you never intended, and can do irreparable damage.

I used to think that to be real, you had to speak from the heart, at all times. I’ve come to realize, that’s a good way to be real stupid, real naive, real selfish, real self-absorbed, and the best way to totally misrepresent your heart. You know, your good, genuine, kind heart. Your heart deserves better representation.

I battle with myself about this every single day. I still want lead conversations with my heart. I still want to be right. I still want to look kind and complimentary. I still want to push my opinions on others and tell people when they’ve messed up (at least based on my made-up standards), but that does not make a nice person or a friendly person, or a relatable person. This isn’t a person I want to be. In fact, I doubt any of us really want to be this person.

So Emily, if you’re reading this.. I am sorry about taunting you over the fence, all those years ago. ❀️

In the meantime. I’m keeping my damn mouth shut, the best that I can. I am working to only be sincere and genuine. I am working so hard to give the benefit of the doubt to others and to believe that I don’t know the whole story, or even 1/8 of it, in some cases. I’m challenging myself to let myself be wrong, even if it’s to protect feelings of those involved. I’m trusting that my friends and family know that they can always, always count on me to be their cheerleader and to stand up for them, but that they don’t need defensive Ashley on alert 24/7. I’m leading with my brain, then my heart. I’m learning to appreciate that every situation doesn’t need or WANT my input, and that is okay. Just know, I’m always here. This time, with two ears and one mouth.. that’ll try it’s best to stay shut.

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends. Shut your damn mouth and think with your brain, THEN your heart.

Photo proof that that sass has always been strong with this one. 🀣

Getting to know your bloggerina (that’s ME!)

First and foremost… I hope bloggerina isn’t a word, because if it isn’t, right here, right now, I’m patenting it, trademarking it, copyrighting it. IT’S MINE. It’s the perfect title for someone who desperately wants to be rhythmically inclined (or just not utterly inept), that would love to move her body in graceful, flowing motions, instead of sporadic tumbles and big gestures, and that wishes to move quietly and purposefully through a time/space continuum for your viewing pleasure. But unfortunately that is not me. I cannot even clap on beat (much to my musician-boyfriend’s chagrin), nothing about me or any of my chosen body movements is graceful or flowing, I am not quiet, I will not put you in a trance, you will not swoon at the beauty of my movement and grace. I’m just kind clunky: loud, out of place, a sight for sore eyes (I’m sure 🀣). Thus was born – your bloggerina. I may not be rhythmic and peaceful and graceful, but my writing generally is. Particularly, my writing has a natural flow to it, a voice you can hear (mine), and is a mostly quiet presence. SWOON AT MY SENTENCES, PEOPLE. 😜

I am a bloggerina- forget all those ballerina dreams. A bloggerina that has clunky, loud sentences, sometimes- just because I’m also me.

I recently gained a whole new group of followers, and this is my twentieth post, so.. I thought it might be a good idea to introduce me, or at least, some of me, to all of you, out there.

But first, thank you, thank you, thank you to all that have been along for the ride. Wow.. what an experience. I have to admit, I recently learned the importance of hashtags (hence the new followers) and became aware that my blog should have a home page. I clicked on mine and it was a bunch of random travel ads. I’m not entirely sure what that was all about, so if you’ve stuck with me, despite all that, you deserve a pat on the back, a cookie, and a big hug. I like to think I’m getting better at this as time goes on, but maybe that’s just my ego. I’m working on a logo, and my homepage says stuff about Sunny Daze now, and there is a Instagram page in the works, so we have to be making at least (some) progress.

To be honest, I can rarely read my own blog posts or view any comments without tearing up. Sunny Daze has turned into something that I am so proud of, even if it is just for myself. Anyone along for the ride, just makes the ride that much sweeter. ❀️ There’s something empowering about being vulnerable, and being honest, with yourself. There’s something stark about seeing the words, in print, that you are going to hold yourself to. I started my blog because I was encouraged to do so by my many friends and family who cannot believe some of the things I get myself into, but it’s truly turned into a labor of love for me. It’s teaching me to love me; the real, random, genuine me. I can’t thank you enough for being part of my journey, and I hope, if nothing else, my blog brings a little sunshine your way.

So, now, for the purpose of this blog; getting to know your bloggerina:

1. I’m Ashley; enneagram whatever. If you don’t know what that means, you haven’t been following long. (Please refer to prior blog post #3). Basically, I’m most comfortable not grouping myself into one specific category. I can be loud, I can be adventurous, I can be a homebody, I can be a leader, I can be a follower. I’m well educated, but I would say my common sense/real world knowledge sometimes is lacking. I’m not overly spiritual and religious, but I believe in what I believe. I hate the idea of eating meat, but I’m not a vegetarian. Mostly, I am comfortable saying that I am not creative; although, I would say this blog challenges that preconceived belief I have always held about myself.

2. I cry when passing roadkill. Call the Disney effect, call it PMS, call it insanity, I just get so upset thinking about the mama deer and the baby deer, no longer having the papa deer. (Also applies to squirrel, rabbit, turkey, fox, coyote, and hawk families). I’m 27 years old, and I still buy into this whole, animal-family dynamic concept. The circle of life means nothing when my feelings are involved. Overpopulation also isn’t a good argument to make to me, even if it’s logical. I will still be sad, it’s just my way of life. Just let me shed my tears about the mama fox and we can be on our merry way.

3. I’m a big supporter of the Oxford Comma. I recently learned what this comma is, despite using it forever. It was cut out of some of my higher education classes and I never really understood why. At this moment in time, I’m back to fully embracing the Oxford Comma and all the separation of clauses it gives us, because it is fun, it’s helpful, and it makes reading sentences easier. (πŸ˜‰ see what I did there – love that damn Comma!)

4. I have never met an animal I didn’t think I needed. Ever. I’m particularly hung up on goats at this moment. I would love several. Immediately.

5. Sometimes I’m a “Mountain Dew to function” type of gal and other times I’m trying to stick to pre-workouts and protein shakes. It’s all about a healthy balance. There is never an inappropriate time to enjoy chipotle though. Diet or no diet. Fitnessing like crazy, or zero fitness at all. Chipotle is always the answer.

6. True crime everything. Podcasts (CJ, Island Crime, Dateline, Morbid) and shows (Snapped, Forensic Files, Dateline, the First 48), even the fictional shows (Person of Interest, Law and Order, Criminal Minds and Burn Notice). I read somewhere that people with anxiety tend to like shows they can predict the ending of, because it’s comforting. And with true crime: it’s almost always the spouse, for the life insurance, and they will inevitably get caught. How comforting.

7. I’m the type of person who takes it really personal when I have a bad day. I don’t get upset with other people necessarily, but more so with myself. I try really hard to maintain my happy deposition, to smile a lot, and truly believe and manifest that sunnier daze (days) are ahead. I get frustrated with myself when I struggle to maintain that interior. I used to think I just had to maintain the exterior of a happy person, but that person, while outwardly putting on a show, is unhappy. Now, I worry more about maintaining my interior happiness. Sunny daze has helped me focus on that and I get upset with myself when I don’t keep that promise to myself. I’m all about internals matching externals, join me.

8. I take promises very seriously. I take friendships very seriously. I take myself seriously. I’m trying to lighten up. Help remind me – nothing is ever as big of a deal as it seems.

9. One time I did yard work in my swimsuit, with a hack saw, which was exactly as time consuming as it sounds. I got it in my head that I was going to surprise Matt by cleaning up the yard, but I had yet to figure out how to turn on the lawnmower and the weed-whacker. I wasn’t going to be deterred. Thus entered.. the hack saw. I considered it an awesome time to work on my tan and to up my vitamin D intake. I’m sure my neighbors still think I’m crazy. πŸ’πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

So that’s me, at least partially. πŸ‘‹πŸΌ hi. Get to know me more, stick around, let me get to know you. Let’s be friends. Welcome to Sunny Daze – of all the places you could be, thank you for choosing to be here with me.

Sunny daze ahead, my friends (probably) 🌞

Wasn’t kidding.

A Sunday State of Mind

I’m guilty of the “Sunday Scaries”- you know, the inevitable feeling of doom and gloom, the distress, and just plain stress, related to an upcoming week, and an overall sense of dread for Monday. It normally involves a bunch of ruminating on why weekends are so short and lamenting that the weekend is a brief 48 hours.

I was speaking with my therapist recently, and was explaining how I manage to get myself completely worked up, starting 7:00 am Sunday and continuing well into Monday. I’ll be honest, there’s not a lot of positivity and “good vibes” going into a work week, when your stomach is in knots and your brain is experiencing above-average stress levels.

My therapist, let’s call her… Bailey, and I, have talked a LOT about routine, about habit. She often reminds me that getting into this state of mind is merely habit. I have trained my brain that this mental wringer every Sunday is necessary. Maybe not necessary, but part of my normal Sunday, a bad, but reliable, habit.

Bailey also reminds me about how hard it is to break a habit. As an example, she tells me to try to imagine drying off with a towel after a shower. I have a routine, you have a routine, and it’s habit, I promise. You’ve just probably never thought about it. At least, I never did.

This example is especially poignant to me, because one of my biggest pet peeves that Matt commits (secretly) is drying off in the shower. Bless his sweet heart, I would never tell him this, but my GOODNESS, he could make me crazy. His dry-off method makes more sense than mine, but it just drives me bonkers.

In my case, I turn off the water, do a wet dog shake, climb out the door, grab the towel off the hook, and wrap it around me. I put my hair up in a different towel and dry myself from the feet up.

Matt (my precious angel) hangs the towel over the glass door, showers, turns off the water, then using the towel, dries his hair first. THEN he pulls the towel over the door, and continues to dry off in the steamy shower.

He’s doing it the right way. It’s way less cold than my method. It does not result in watery footprints and water drips all over the bathroom. However, the towel (like everything in our house) is generally covered in dog hair (even when they are fresh out of the wash, they are still hairy, and I DO NOT GET IT) . Inevitably, stray dog hair ends up on the shower walls and on the floor. AND IT DRIVES ME CRAZY. 3.5 years in and I still feel my jaw clench, every, single, time.

It’s okay if you’re laughing at me, I’m laughing at me too. 🀣 How lucky am I to have THAT as a “biggest pet peeve?” But it really does paint a picture, everything we do, including exiting the shower, is habitual. I’m trying to retrain my brain, starting with the Sunday Scaries.

This last week, with Star’s birthday and the time change, just felt heavy. I went into the weekend; mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. So I knew that today, of all days, it was extra important to really focus on my new Sunday routine. I don’t have time for Sunday Scaries.

It might be silly, but I’ve started making these small changes Sunday/Monday and I am already seeing a big difference.

On Sunday’s:

  • I grocery shop/meal plan. I love the grocery store. It’s the MOST relaxing place.
  • I clean out and restock the fridge: out with the old, in with the new, and no more mystery smells!
  • I clean the bathrooms. I don’t know why, but the thought of going into a new week with gross toilets and a hairy shower, just doesn’t set well.
  • I pamper the dogs; lots of time playing with toys, brushing, and cuddles for my babies. I miss them when I’m at work 🀣
  • I clean our glass front door. I can’t look into a new week with dirty, and nose smudged, windows.
  • I empty all the trash cans, even if they were just emptied. There’s something refreshing with taking last weeks trash out and starting the week fresh/empty. Ain’t nobody got time for last weeks trash (physically and metaphorically).
  • I prepare a meal for Monday night. No one wants to make dinner on Monday nights.
  • I always shower and air dry my hair, I’m not dealing with that drama Monday morning and those extra 15 minutes.. are cherished.

On Monday’s:

  • I pick an outfit I like, something comfy (but work appropriate). An outfit that screams, I’m here to kill it.. with comfort. 🀣
  • I check my email to make sure that the bone marrow registry hasn’t found someone that I match. I DREAM of saving a life like this. Checking this every morning is a happy habit.
  • I pack a lunch, one that I will look forward to eating and throw together some good snacks. Tasks, even shitty ones, are more fun if you have a yummy snack to dissipate the pain.
  • I always stop and get McDonald’s for Monday’s breakfast. I’m actually trying to cut soda, but Monday mornings deserve a McDonald’s Coke.
  • I always pay for the person behind me in line. Starting my week with a simple act of kindness, towards a stranger, just makes me happy. (When I used to go to McDonald’s more regularly, the girls would get so excited to tell me the next day how long the “pay it forward” trend lasted. Sometimes it was one person, sometimes it was three, sometimes it was 35. Kindness DOES make a difference, I promise.).
  • I listen to music, happy music. To be honest, I LOVE true crime podcasts, and I used to listen to them on the way into work, but I’ve come to realize – music is better. Starting the day out with brutal murder and monsters wasn’t kicking my day off right. This has been a HARD habit to break, but “Should have been a Cowboy” by Toby Keith is a staple. Without a doubt, I should have been a cowgirl.
  • I call my dad and wish him a good day. There’s nothing like kicking off the day talking to one of your favorite people.
  • Once I’m at work, I fill up my “I love my dogs” tumbler with ice (work has the BEST ice), turn on my space heater, clean out my email inbox and write the most simple, easy to complete to-do list. I write down ALL tasks, so I have lots to cross out all day long. Productivity feeds on feelings of success.. at least in my case.
  • I ALWAYS miss a Monday. I know, fitness instructors everywhere are probably shitting their pants right now. I’m sorry, but I ALWAYS miss a Monday. I don’t like working out. It isn’t fun. Maybe my endorphins don’t work. But seriously, the last thing I want to do is to spend even a mere 30 minutes on a Monday, doing something I hate.
  • Matt and I have a rule – there are no responsibilities after work on Monday’s. No chores, no big dinner plans, no errands. He drums, I read/veg out, and we go to bed early.

It’s been said that it takes 3 weeks to form a habit- and I’ve been at this for almost 3 months now. I have to admit, it’s taken big effort on my part to continue to do this, because up until a couple weeks ago, I saw no progress. I was just doing a bunch of stuff, I didn’t particularly enjoy, while stressing about Monday and the upcoming week.

Maybe it’s stupid. Maybe you’re calling bullshit. But I have to admit, it works for me. A clean (ish) home, meals ready, a little kindness, and starting my week out with cheery music is a game-changer, and to be honest, I don’t miss the Sunday Scaries.

I don’t know what will work for you, I don’t know if you even suffer from Sunday Scaries, but if you do, try switching up those habits. Retrain your brain. Future you will thank you, because unfortunately.. Sundays aren’t going anywhere.

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends. Happy Sunday! 🌞

March 17th: a Star was born and the world ended.

March 17th, 1996, Star Patricia entered the world. I was not there, but I have no doubt she was standing, then running, at a record pace. Star was not one for casual milestones; rather she would often skip steps or do it all at once. I can imagine her gangly, filly body, running as fast as it could, slamming on the brakes and then spooking at nothing. This picture makes me smile.

I can imagine this pretty confidently because she was up to the same shenanigans; running full speed, slamming on her brakes, and spooking at nothing (just chubbier) when I fell in love with her 9 years later. But that’s kind of just how Star was: all or nothing. She was either a top-speed, bucking machine or you couldn’t get her to move. I preferred my bucking bronc.

And truly, that’s pretty much how she died: going 100 miles an hour, living a happy and healthy life, bossing everyone around, and then, just like that, it was over. She didn’t suffer. She didn’t wait around. But then again, she didn’t wait around for anyone, even me.

I lost her December 26, 2019. March 17th, 2020 was to be the first time in 15 years that I didn’t celebrate her birthday with her.

You see, I know it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, and perhaps more tellingly, I’m even Irish. But March 17th is and will always be Star’s birthday to me.

Ironically, March 17th, 2020, was also the day that the world ended in Omaha due to COVID. All businesses (besides essential) were shut down, we were advised to take our office equipment home “for the time being” and the grocery store pick up lines flooded onto the highways.

In a way, it wasn’t surprising, part of my world ended when Star died… and I didn’t expect the first birthday without her to be any less “world-ending”.

But at the same time, WOW, the world as we knew it, pre-pandemic, really was changing. I had no idea it would be months before I saw my family again. I had no idea it would be months before I saw my friends and my office again. I had no idea that making doctors appointments, and eye appointments, and dental appointments, would become impossible. I had no idea we would soon be fighting for toilet paper, and nonperishable foods, and that limitations for permissible amount of Clorox Wipes purchased would be set.

I don’t think any of us saw the world changing, quite like this, and I considered myself “braced” for a world change.

I had prepared myself for the first year without Star. I knew things like her birthday would be hard. So, OCD Ashley planned. On March 17th, 2020, I made a goal to make 24 people smile (Star would have been 24). I preordered flowers for all my favorite ladies, I sent candy bouquets, I paid it forward in the coffee line, I brought my team breakfast (which no one would eat, thanks COVID). I planned for the worst, or what I thought was going to be the worst, and knew how to face it. Smiles. 24 to be exact.

I planned on collecting 24 “good for my soul” memories in 2020 to honor Star. I had trips planned, I had concert tickets purchased, girls weekends were calendared in. The whole shebang, I was not going to spend 2020 sad, because I knew that is not what Star would have wanted.

But then the world ended (basically). Concerts were called off, shows cancelled, sporting events skipped, trips postponed. I spent 3 months inside, terrified to infect anyone I love, and mostly alone. Praise the Lord for Matty and the dogs. πŸ₯°

My experience was not unique. I worried about my granny, I worried about my family. I missed restaurants. I missed social gatherings (only kinda). I mostly missed going to the grocery store without people yelling at me for going down the aisle the wrong way.

I even watched Tiger King (which I still feel really weird about – this needs to be a discussion board topic someday)

After a while, a lack of routine started to get to me. My need to separate work and home was becoming increasingly evident. I was starting to hate all the other dog owner’s in my neighborhood for being the most active/dedicated dog walkers in America. I got bored of books, and Netflix, and DoorDash. I started to mourn the normalcy for the elderly, the kindergarteners and the seniors in high-school that I feared they were missing. I even missed random smiles from strangers on the streets, without a mask blocking the view.

Selfishly, I missed concerts and trips and restaurants. I wanted to patio drink without a mask on my face. I missed clothes shopping with dressing rooms and recognizing people when I passed by. I missed being able to see my family and friends without worrying that they were going to get infected.

This is not unique. I am not unique. We all missed those things/still miss those things, and we all still worry about these things. And we all, want the world to go back to the way it was, before March 17th 2020. (Or whatever day was the day before COVID interrupted your life).

Well.. if I could have it my way, I’d go all the way back to December 26, 2019, but that is neither here nor there. Besides, I can’t imagine what all I would have missed by avoiding the “end of the world”.

I would have lost out on experiencing the most true, humbling, and profound gratitude for those around me. I would have missed out on moments and times with friends and family that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I would have robbed of my extra long visits home, if the world hadn’t “ended.” These were the longest visits I have had at home since I moved. I would have been at bars instead of doing puzzles with my family. I would have been traveling instead of using the time to just be. I would have been busy, but not really mourning.

You see, I had every intention of living every single day as if Star wasn’t dead and the best way to do that, at the time and in my mind, was to throw myself, face first into living. But then… the world shut down.

In the last year, I have cried more times than I can count. I have wished for five more minutes an infinite amount. I have begged to not be stuck at home, to not be stuck in my thoughts, and to get out of my own memories. But I’ve come to realize… that is living. The world had to end, my world had to end (so to speak) so that I could learn how to live, and feel, and hurt again. I had to learn to be strong, to count on myself, to entertain myself, to control my mind, to control my self-talk, and to love myself.. all by myself. Star was a part of me, a huge part of me, and she was easy to love. It was a lot harder to love me, without the most me-part-of-me.

So Star, I’m sorry, but my world didn’t end December 26, 2019. It also didn’t end March 17th, 2020. Despite the world’s best efforts, I still grew, I still loved and I learned how to trust and rely on myself. I still prefer me with you and I would much, much rather be telling a story about you kicking me off and being sassy or something silly, but that’s not the purpose of this blog.

March 17, 1996, an absolute force to be reckoned with, my best friend, MY horse, Star was born and with her life, she taught me bravery, she made me both physically and mentally strong, she brought me more joy than can be quantified and some of the most precious memories of my life.

March 17, 2020, the world as we knew it, collapsed. Spirits were crushed, people were lost, morale was low, and honestly, it has been a very hard year.

But March 17, 2021, I’m here to celebrate: to fresh beginnings, to renewed hope, to personal growth, to setting boundaries, and to loving myself. On what should have been your 25th birthday, I will do nothing special, I’m not going to go out of my way to make people smile, but I can promise you, I’ll remember you, I look back at our memories together, I’ll cry into your mane a little, and I’ll miss you. But then I’ll grab myself by the bootstraps, roll around in some dirt, and take off running to a better, happier, brighter future – just like you would want. Your lessons haven’t left me, even in end of world times.

I said you didn’t wait around for anyone, even me, and that’s sort of true. But I believe now, more than ever, that your presence is always with me. I know you’re not much of a waiter, but I still have a lot of life to live, so wait for me at rainbow bridge, will ya?

Miss you Star, with all my heart. Happy birthday, baby. ❀️

PS: you really dodged a bullet Star, you would have HATED covid.

Sunny daze ahead friends (probably). 🌞

I accidentally became a lawyer.. βš–️

I wish I could tell you I emerged from my mother’s womb, gavel in hand, yelling “objection,” with my tiny baby briefcase clutched in my little baby fist, but that’s simply not the case. In fact, I distinctly remember telling my father (who is both an attorney and a banker) that I would never, ever, ever, in a billion years, want to do what he does – sit in an office all day long, reading documents and arguing with people over email.

This was nothing against my father. My father is easily the smartest man in the universe (at least to me) and there is no one I look up to more than him. I would absolutely love to be 1/3 the person he is. Just… not on a professional level (at least, not then).

Also, I’m pretty sure he does more than sit in an office all day long, reading documents and arguing with people over email, but that’s what I thought at the time.

And yet, here we are: Ashley B., Attorney-at-Law, esquire… okay I’m already out of fun titles and bored. Whatever – I’m a freaking attorney. So what gives?

Again, I wish I could tell you that I had a clairvoyant epiphany in college, midway through my Shakespearean studies, that justice was my calling and that all would not be right in my world until I was preserving that very justice myself. Or even that I suddenly realized that there was no better party in my generation to prosecute the guilty or defend the innocent than me. But, that also did not happen.

In reality, I sucked at med school stuff. My favorite professor (who I looked up to and respected so much (and still do)) would not recommend me for the English graduate program, and basically, there was just not a ton of careers searching for a B average student, with an unclear path, a degree in English and an emphasis in creative writing. I didn’t bother to take any business classes, because I would never do that! (This now seems like the safest, most sure-fire, route to employment- heed my advice). I “took” one accounting class, but mostly used it as an excuse to flirt with a guy I thought was cute (update: I was wrong, he was NOT cute) and those stupid balancing T-charts never evened out, ever. I even took the GRE and failed to take note that MATH would be on it, and got a whopping “not good” score there too.

Honestly, I would tell you how bad I did on the GRE but I don’t remember. I was so detached and disinterested. I can’t even remember the scoring system. I’m not even sure I’m using the right letters to identify the test. πŸ™„ I just remember being FLABBERGASTED that there was math on it and I hadn’t looked in a math book in years, not since the trauma that was calculus. Clearly, I set myself up for success here, haha. Note: I have no doubt it was a horrifying score.

So.. I’m set to graduate, and the future is looking… bleak. I’m looking poor, my animals are looking expensive, and I am suddenly having a real-life Come to Jesus moment with myself regarding the fact that life is about to drastically change. My parents were also having these meetings with me (and Jesus), but they were a little less “YOU ARE GOING TO BE HOMELESS. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO EAT THE RABBITS FOR FOOD. YOU WILL HAVE TO SHARE YOUR HORSE’S STALL WITH HER AND USE HER BODY AS WARMTH TO GET THROUGH THE WINTER” and a little more like “Ashley, we want to see you happy, what will make you happy? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do your passions lie (besides with every dog in America)?”

Potato, Pahtato. Things were bleak.

So, my dad dared me to take the LSAT and I’ve never been one to turn down a dare. Besides, it wasn’t like opportunities to demonstrate my extensive knowledge of Hamlet were lining up left and right. So i figured, what the hell? I’ll take it, I’ll fail it, and THEN I’ll be homeless.

But I didn’t fail. I actually did pretty well. Apparently I had marked that the test scorer’s could send my scores out to local law schools (which just goes to show how confident I was that I was GOING TO FAIL), and before I knew it.. law schools were calling and offering scholarships. (Not a ton, I don’t want to sound like I’m tooting my own horn here, a few law schools called and offered nominal scholarships). No one likes a horn tooter.

But like… I wasn’t busy. My master plan was still in its infancy, not even revealing itself to me (the creator). For the record, I am still unsure of the master plan. But again, I thought, what the hell? It’s not like I have a bunch of other super cool shit going on.

So I went to the meeting, apparently sold myself well, and was offered a spot in the class of 2015… orientation starting Thursday. It was Tuesday.

And just like that.. I went to law school. I figured, someone has to stand up for the pit bulls. (I went into law school thinking that I was going to practice animal law. Hint: animals don’t have rights and I’ve never cried more in a class in my life.. including chemistry).

So now, I do real estate work, title work, and I sit in my office all day long, read tons of documents and argue with people over email, just like I said I never would. Man, I lawyer the hell out everything. Kinda.

It is what it is. Is it where my passions lie? Not exactly, but my dogs are and I love being able to pay their vet bills and take them to daycare, and spoil the shit out of them. I like my work, I feel like I do important work, and I look forward to (most) of my work days, which is better than some people can say.

So.. in the end, it works. It all worked out. Now, I’m a lawyer and my dogs have a yard, I never had to use my horse for warmth and my rabbits died a natural death, and not from being consumed.

In sum, I guess we call this a win. I turned out just like my favorite guy after all. Case dismissed.

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends. 🌞

You, me, and OCD.

After the catastrophe that was September 2020, and the major screw up with my medication change, I decided I needed to see a psychiatrist, or at least, a doctor that had more knowledge about mental illness and medication that affects the brain.

I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect, since I already knew; I have generalized anxiety, always have. I didn’t really care to be hyper-diagnosed, by a woman that didn’t know me OR my lifelong anxiety journey. Plus, my mom kind of freaked me out, with cautionary tales about psychiatrists just trying to push all the drugs on you, whether you need it or not.

It probably won’t surprise you that 45 minutes into our conversation, she told me that she thought I may have OCD, and I thought about punching her through the screen (I was in a BAD place people!) I was so frustrated. I don’t obsessively turn knobs 3 times, I don’t open and close the door 6 times (on purpose), my volume doesn’t have to be on an odd number or an even number. I DO check that my straightener is off like 8 times before I leave the house.. but I have determined that is a normal/healthy safety measure.

So, I was pissed. This woman, whom I was desperately reaching out to for relief, was making up more conditions for me. She wasn’t hearing me and I just needed someone to listen and CHANGE my mental state, stat.

This just goes to show how little I knew about and understood OCD. I know the stereotypes. But I had no idea that most people’s OCD doesn’t actually manifest in obsessive cleaning, loyalty to certain numbers, and unusual tics.

OCD looks like a downward spiral for me. One gigantic, twisty slide into Doomsville. It’s intrusive thoughts. It’s absolutely paralyzing fear that something bad is going to happen to me or my loved ones.

OCD looks like unanswered calls turning into a full blown panic attack that my mom is missing. It’s calling all my mom’s sisters and my dad to try to track her down. It looks like going through traffic alerts and listening to the KC scanner, to make sure I don’t recognize any cars that have been reportedly wrecked. It’s calling hospitals to make sure she’s not a patient. Seriously, it has happened.

OCD looks like endless vet visits and constantly being convinced Lucy is going to die of cancer. It’s panic attacks in the parking lot of the vet office and tears. It’s requests for unnecessary blood work and X-rays. It looks like money that my dad would argue is (wasted) but also my only solace. I can’t sleep or eat or if I think she’s unwell.

(I do blame Harley for this one, FYI)

It’s mulling over conversations when I should be sleeping. Worrying that I was misunderstood or made someone angry. It’s worrying that a lack of response via text message means I’m in trouble. It’s worrying that my communications were misconstrued or that I didn’t say what I meant.

It’s worrying when friends and family members have check ups. It’s timing how long it should take my loved ones to get somewhere when they’re traveling. It’s watching flight paths and monitoring flight conditions. It’s weather alerts, in every single state, county and city where my loved ones are located. It’s crying when the weather is bad and I don’t want my family out in it.

It’s crying every time I leave in KC, because it “may be the last time I see my parents”. It’s begging my friends to never drink and drive, because I don’t want to lose them.

It’s worrying that my truck is going to explode on the highway, but my dogs miraculously escape, only to be hit by a car on the highway. This one is new, the car explosion in my backyard did NOT help me out.

It’s freezing when I don’t know exactly what to do or how to fix something. It’s being afraid to make a mistake. It’s avoiding certain things because it’s easier not to do it, than flounder.

It’s almost uncontrollable, my mind is truly more comfortable spiraling to the worst of the worst, and convincing myself it’s going to happen, than rationalization. OCD is living in the shadows of the worst-case-scenario, begging God to protect my loved ones, and straddling the line between a complete mess and a functioning human being.

The worst part: knowing that I have been so blessed with the health and safety of my loved ones, that Lucy is healthy and well, and being absolutely terrified that God is going to punish me for not being “appreciative enough” for all he’s given me and how well he’s protected me.

I thought this was normal. I thought this is how everyone felt. I thought it was okay to be prepared for the worst-case-scenario at all times. I thought it was okay to be afraid that God will show me true loss and true pain, because I’m stuck in this state of mind.

That’s silly and it’s irrational, but OCD is silly, irrational, and just plain evil sometimes.

OCD has forced me to live in fight or flight mode, nonstop, for years at a time. It has convinced me to sit on the sidelines of my own life, to preserve my own safety. OCD has turned me into the crazy “mother-hen” to my family and friends. It has caused me so much stress, and anxiety, and heartache. I have spent hours mourning things that haven’t happened, and quite honestly, may never happen. Allowing myself to feel this way.. is just stupid, and frankly, I’m tired of it.

Bad things are going to happen, it is inevitable. But instead of sitting here, waiting for the metaphorical shit to hit the fan, frozen in place and time and not really living at all, I can choose to live. I want to live, but not like I have been.

It’s time to change the game, change the habit, and teach my brain to channel positivity. At the the end of the day, I know I am strong. I know that 99.9% of the time, the worst-case-scenario rarely happens & even if it does: I can’t stop it, all I can do is live through it, grow from it, and love as hard as I can.

I refuse to live in fear anymore, I’m robbing myself of my happiness. Mistakes happen, accidents happen, tragedy strikes, and people still survive. Living doesn’t mean living in survival mode 24/7. And I want to live! ❀️

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (absolutely).

Name a person, a place or a thing (or all three): Home

After 25 years in the same house, my granny is moving. It would seem utterly unrelated to me in the slightest, EXCEPT my granny’s basement sort of became a storage unit for my home.

To distill a complicated spiral of events into a few sentences: I got into law school (unexpectedly- I know, a story for another time. I’ll get into it someday), I was in a toxic relationship, I was commuting 1.5 hours each day to and from law school, and I decided I needed to move. STAT.

So I packed up my house, my home for the four prior years, moved into my parents fully furnished basement, and happily deposited all my “home” in granny’s basement. And there it is has stayed since 2015.

I always thought I would get a house after law school, so I always thought holding onto my “home” was a good idea. Besides, any time I missed it, it was just down the street and down a flight of creepy stairs. And trust me, there were times I could have sat in that dark basement for hours, just be home.

But then, plot twist: 2017, I met Matt, who lived in Omaha, and had his own house. By the time my 2018 graduation rolled around, he had a career and a home and was settled… and I lived in my parents basement. It made more sense to leave my home and join his home. So I packed up my dog, my clothes, and a good pillow, pulled away from my childhood home, to embark on my Nebraska journey to find home.

And I’ve been in Nebraska for almost 3 years. In fact, I just established residency (despite no diamond, which I SWORE would never happen). Damn me for telling the police on myself!

So.. If you’re keeping track, I now have my home that’s stored in granny’s basement, remaining parts of home stored at my parents, and the home that Matt and I have built together over the last 2.5 years. So like, 3 homes, or at least, 3 pieces of home scattered along the Midwest. 😩

Back to present time: I have to clean out granny’s basement. I’ve been dreading it all week. Pulling out my old decorations and my old furniture, my old pictures and my old horseback riding stuff, is going to inevitably hurt. Last time I was in my Lawrence home, Harley was still alive, Star was still alive, I was two bunnies richer. I had different friendships and relationships. My 5 year trajectory looked NOTHING like my current life.

No seriously, if you told me when I moved out of the 1800, I would eventually live in Nebraska, I would have laughed in your face. But hey, life has its own plans πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

But the more I think about it, the more I realize home is just a concept. It’s a person, it’s a place, and it’s a thing, and sometimes it’s all three.

Home is where Matt and my dogs are. Not where my outdated decorations are or my beach-themed bathroom set is.

Home is where my parents are, not with my broken living room chair and my scratched kitchen table.

Home is with Star’s ashes (which still kills me, btw) not with every halter she’s ever worn and every hoof pick I’ve owned.

Home is spending the evening with loved ones, laughing about old memories, and cherishing all the other “homes” you’ve shared.

Home is the place where the people that you share it with are the most important part.

Home is currently dark walnut floors, covered in muddy paw prints, and an empty, but still running fish tank (because for some reason, I just can’t get the damn fish to stay alive).

Home is having drums as the background beat to my life.

Home is paws on my face, blankets hogged, and sleepy kisses from my guy.

Home changes, invariably. Time changes home, people leave home, people start a new home with new people, friends move forward, you (or in this case, I) move forward (or northern 🀣). Home is ever-evolving.

The more I’ve considered it, the less home is about an address and the more it’s about a feeling; a comfort; safety. Home can be filled with furniture and decorations, but those are merely things. The invaluable pieces of home are the memories made within the walls, the laughter that still hurts your stomach to think back on, the feeling of safety beneath your roof, and a place to grow.

Home isn’t my things. I’m not getting rid of home today, by going through granny’s basement. Rather, I’m reminiscing on an old home, a place of growth, and a place of tremendous, irreplaceable memories. That growth and those memories will never leave me, as they are not tied to things that filled that house.

Today, I’m going through my old things; some I will keep to add to my new home, and some I am ready to let go of, because they never really made home, home anyways.

Home is priceless, but not because of the things in it. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends (probably).

Be Like the Dogs (when appropriate)

It’s no secret that I’m a dog lover, proud dog mother, and a self-proclaimed spokesperson of all things dog related. Nearly all my clothing items have some version of “dog mom” or “can I pet your dog” or “dogs > people” ostentatiously stamped across the front of it. There is no shame in the game, folks. Don’t hate me for finding the members of society that don’t suck. I take my groupie responsibilities very seriously. Besides, talking about dogs is my pageant talent. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

True story: Matt and I discuss, at least once a week, which dog of ours we would be, if we got the chance. Obviously, Lucy is the sweetest, but she’s got some joint issues. Brantley, is confident, but also yells all the time. Ultimately, we both end up choosing Zeppelyn, because she is truly the happiest being on the planet. Nothing bothers her. Her feelings are never hurt, she is never stressed, she sleeps well, wakes up well, and gets around great.

So, as always 99% of my brain was thinking about how great dogs are, and somehow, someway, I got sidetracked into thinking about how much better people would be… if they would just be more like dogs. Stick with me here. 🀣

Lucy, Brantley and Zeppelyn wake up every single day happy and ready to embrace the day. They don’t care if they have a hard day ahead of them, they aren’t dreading socialization, they aren’t even worried about what’s for breakfast. They just want to take their morning potty break, then snuggle up for a quick morning cuddle session and then enjoy a good stretch. What if we, as people, woke up, took a quick potty break, and then took a minute to cuddle up with all our favorite people and enjoy a good morning stretch?

Every single day, when Matt and I get home, all three of our beasts coming running at us, full speed, just to say hello. What if we made this a common practice? What if we ran to the people we love, and showed them how happy we are to see them, unabashedly and without excuse? For the record, I started practicing this in my own relationship, greeting Matt with excitement and a big smile/smooch, no matter what kind of day I have had. It’s a game changer for both of US.

Our dogs EXUDE joy. They don’t care if it’s an old toy to play with, or the same breakfast they’ve had the last 365 days, or a simple ear rub, they are happy. They love the mundane. Simple acts of affection, a full meal, and attention, and they’re happy. What if we woke up everyday simply happy and were able to find pleasure in the little things?

Everything is an adventure to our babes. A car ride, even to the vet, is exciting. An open window and ears flapping in the wind is pure bliss. What if we approached every car ride as an adventure, and every adventure as if it’s the first time we’ve ever taken one? I’m trying – I enjoy my drive more when I’m not in a hurry, I like the fresh air hitting my face (even if it’s cold) to wake me up. I want (and am working) to approach each day as an adventure, surrounded by my loved ones.

Do you know what my dogs do when I pull out the leash or mutter W-A-L-…? They run to the door, they sit down, wait for the leash click and then take off for the hills. Lucy has never once said: “wow mom, not with these knees” or “did you forget about my arthritis?” Or “in this weather”. (Matt said I should clarify that there’s millions of other words Lucy has never said, because she does not speak English – much to my disappointment). She, of all creatures, has every right to fight exercise, and she is thrilled for any opportunity to move that big, achy body of hers. I want to be like that. I want to approach exercise, like it is my favorite activity, like my joints don’t ache, like I didn’t have a long day. Let’s move our bodies, let’s be excited about it, let’s not make any more excuses.

Let’s be enthusiastic about the day, excited to be alive, excited to go on an adventure with our people, and delighted to feel the fresh air on our faces, the wind in our hair. Let’s enjoy belly rubs from loved ones, simple things like brushing our hair, sharing our “toys” with our favorite people, and moving our bodies around. Let’s enjoy the outdoors, no matter the weather. Let’s jump into the cold water to take a quick swim, shake it off, and sunbathe, just because we can. Let’s share kisses and eye contact, freely and fully, with our loved ones (Lucy!). Let’s yell when we need to, scream hello to our neighbors, and bite the feet of people we don’t like (Brantley!). Let’s lay in front of the fireplace, enjoy the peace, and just cuddle. Let’s snuggle up and share a nap. Let’s practice loyalty and self-confidence, let’s love our bodies, the way they are. Let’s lose track of time, forget when we’ve been wronged, and just drop the drama (Zeppelyn!) It’s easier to just cuddle it out anyways. Let’s love one another, like our dogs love us. πŸ’•

It would be irresponsible if I just left it at that. So quickly, we should probably take a second to talk about when it is not a good idea to embrace “being the dog”:

1. Don’t shit in the wilderness (unless you’re camping I guess, but in that case, you’re beyond my help).

2. Don’t sniff your friend’s butts. Don’t sniff stranger’s butts either. In fact, just don’t sniff any butts. It’s weird. It’s not how we make friends.

3. Don’t hump any legs. We aren’t in middle school anymore. Actually, just don’t hump anything, especially in front of others.

4. Don’t sort through the trash, looking for tissues full of snot to chow down on. It’s not cute, it’s not appetizing, and I’m pretty sure it could lead to a bigger health concerns.

5. Don’t eat the shoes. I don’t care how delicious they look, how spiteful you feel, or how ugly they are, leather is not as replaceable as you think. Or the couch (Zeppelyn!)

6. Don’t chew on bones. Especially human bones. Your dentist will thank you, and it turns out, we (as a people) aren’t overly thrilled with cannibalism. Think Ted Bundy – not the most liked person in the universe.

7. Avoid eating things off the ground. Especially, ESPECIALLY, if you didn’t drop it and have no idea when it was dropped. I’m all for the 5 second rule, the 10 second rule, whatever your family abides by, but don’t, and I mean do NOT, eat random things off the floor. It’s bad practice.

8. Use a shower to clean yourself. Shower, water, soap. Maybe a nice squeegee. No one cools licks themselves clean. And by cool, I mean, no one without major hygiene issues.

There’s a lot worse things to channel in the world, than to channel being like a dog. Be happy, be cuddly, be loving, be forgiving, be kind, and smile… a lot. Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends, be like the dog. 🐢

Zeppelyn ❀️
Lucy ❀️
Brantley ❀️

Double trouble and spite bunnies. πŸ‘―‍♀️

Today, it’s a nice toasty -9Β° in Omaha. That’s the actual temperature, I didn’t have the guts to look at the “real feel” temperature. I’m not made for this. It took everything in me to get out of the covers to feed the dogs. And I clearly LOVE to feed my dogs, everyone comments on their “full-figures” 🀣

So, now feels like the perfect time to tell the story of the day I made my dad the most mad that he has ever been at me. Okay, it was a series of events, but truly, he was openly hostile there for a while. We are still dealing with the aftermath every now and again, and each time, it’s like ripping off a bandaid.. that’s attached to a bushy eyebrow, and it hurts. June 2012 was a rough month for the family. I think my dad still has PTSD. He still locks his jaw when I bring it up. πŸ˜…

One time, I brought home two puppies.

Okay, first off, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I was 19. I had just gotten a new house (that my parents so graciously furnished and helped purchase). I had a job. I had planned on my adorable baby black lab puppy, Lucy, for an entire year. Seriously.. planning for Lucy may have been what got me through the dorm “experience”, besides Courtney of course 😘. Everyone, including my parents, knew about and approved of the future-Lucy.

So, when the time came, I was searching for the perfect breeder. And there were NO litters. Anywhere. For months, I couldn’t find a black lab puppy.

So, I got a rabbit. A “mini-Dutch,” the type that isn’t supposed to get bigger than a couple of pounds. S(he) wore a dresses and I brought her(him) everywhere with me. Her name was Remy and she was a good girl… until she wasn’t.

Fun fact about rabbits, they don’t grow their testicles right away. HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT ASHLEY (you’re probably thinking)?! So glad you asked. I was brushing Remy, had her/him flipped on her/his back.. and I found a tumor.

Immediately, I panic. I know this is probably shocking because I’m naturally such a calm person. πŸ™„

I take her straight to the vet to get this tumor examined/taken care of. The vet laughed and laughed and laughed at me, for weeks. I’m probably still the running joke in that vet clinic. I didn’t notice that Remy had matching tumors. Remy grew TESTICLES on me. Remy ➑️ Remington, no more dresses. 🐰 oh, and Remington was NOT mini. He was 12 pounds of love. πŸ™ˆ

After that trauma, it probably would have been appropriate for me to just cool it on the animal hunt, but if you know me at all, you know that was not going to happen. A friend convinced me that I should go look at the shelter “just for fun.”

And I’m not kidding.. the first kennel we see.. TWO black lab puppies. Immediately, I adopted them. 0 thought AT ALL. Against all my mother’s advice, I absolutely did NOT sleep on the decision. I had my credit card out, ready to be swiped, before my brain even caught up to my heart.

To be honest, we need to take a moment to thank the LORD that the littermate brother was in a separate kennel down the hall, and they weren’t all three together, otherwise.. I swear I would have walked out with all three. Self control and puppies are incongruent concepts for me.

… so I send a picture of the girls to my parents and said Congrats Grandpawrents! I’m not sure my dad has ever dialed my number so quickly in his life. There was a lot of “NO NO NO, blah blah -new house, you don’t have time for two dogs. Blah blah DO YOU NOT REMEMBER THE TWO PUPPIES WE HAD WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD?!”

But it was a done deal. I had already named them. Lucy and Harley were coming home.

And my GOD were they naughty. My dad was 100% right. Apparently, I did NOT remember the puppies we had as children, because the level of destruction that these puppies brought to my new house.. and new furniture… was offensive. I should have known when they puked 3 times each in my new jeep on the short drive from the shelter to my house. No exaggeration, the shelter was 3 blocks from my house. They EACH puked 3 times.. in three blocks. That was just a preview of what was to come.

Toys were shredded, blankets were annihilated, walls were pooped on. Window screens were chewed out, and there were teeth marks on all the trim in the house. Brand new furniture was worn in, carpets destroyed, outdoor furniture demolished. My jeep permanently smelled like dog vomit.

They grew, quickly. All my plans to train them when they were little and manageable, were quickly tossed to the side. Come to find out, my little labbies were actually rotties. Lucy was 40 pounds at 4 months, Harley was 53 pounds. I was 90 pounds. They literally outweighed me from the beginning.

It was never more clear that I bit off more than I could chew, than the day I took them both on a walk, to “work on leash skills”. First, Harley wouldn’t stop doing somersaults and tangling her leash with Lucy’s. Lucy laid down in the middle of a crosswalk. Overall, the experience was going horribly. BUT THEN, a skateboarder came by, made a loud noise scaring them, and they ran for the hills. I was so caught off guard, so disoriented, so confused (and possibly concussed), that I couldn’t let go of the leashes. My dumbass held onto these damn leashes as these dogs drug me down the street, through a bush, over sidewalks.

How long did this last? Surely, I let go, right? Sure didn’t. Cars had to pull over. A man jumped on my dogs to get them to stop. 4 blocks. We went four blocks before we ran into our superhero… literally. There is no road rash like the type of road rash that comes from 4 blocks of cement, bushes, sidewalks and curbs. My arms were outstretched, from holding the leashes, so the insides of my arms were destroyed, my knees and thighs were bleeding, even my poor chin was bloodied.

It was an experience. At that moment, I knew my dad was right. But don’t worry, it took many, many more years (and vet bills) before I ever gave my dad the satisfaction of my agreement… two littermate puppies might not have been my BEST decision. But don’t worry, it only got worse, a couple days later.

I was all about my zoo. I had the fish and my horse too. I loved it. I loved the chaos and having all my items be destroyed (apparently). So, when my boyfriend at the time told me I couldn’t have another rabbit, I was bent and determined to prove him wrong.

19 year old Ashley with her “own house” wasn’t one to be told no. So, I promptly went out and bought ANOTHER bunny. A spite bunny – named Apollo.

In a matter of two weeks, I had moved from the dorms, adopted a rabbit, dealt with the shock of finding out my rabbit was male, adopted two puppies (very against my parents wishes) and bought a spite bunny, just to prove I could.

June 2012 was a busy one. My dad didn’t speak to me, besides one word sentences, for the entire summer.

100% worth it. πŸ˜‰. Despite the mess, the chaos, the money, the destruction, I wouldn’t have changed my girls for the world. ❀️ he did eventually come around, I will admit. He loved Harley until she passed away and he still calls Lucy his special girl. I know, deep down, he’s glad they were mine.

… deep, deep down. Never did get approval for the bunnies though. πŸ™ˆ

June 2012 was my favorite (sans the silent treatment from my dad). I loved my home and all the paws I shared it with. ❀️ those were some sunny daze, friends.

My little Jayhawksβ€οΈπŸ’™
They loved one another so well❀️

Sunny daze ahead, sweet friends. Stay warm, buy the puppie(s). ❀️