Man! Has life been crazy busy or what? I had so much going on in August and now I feel like things are about to slow down just a little bit. I’ve got a few new books to get reading and some that I’ve been wanting to read for a really long time, now. Let’s take a look!
Couldn’t Stop Reading
Love on Pointe by Tiffany Odekirk — I reaaaalllyyy super loved this book. It’s LDS Young Adult Fiction and I TOTALLY love that. It was perfect in every way. I loved every word. I ate it up in 2 days. I la la la la la love Emmy and Rhys. How they meet is kind of ironic. Not in a negative way. But it’s cute. I wish there were going to be sequels! Definitely can’t wait to read more by this author! *Clean/healthy romance, paperback/library checkout
Back to the Heart by Sky Corgan — I’m giving 4 stars because of the insane shocking twist to the story almost at the end and I just couldn’t handle it. You’ll have to read the entire thing to find our for yourself!! *Sexual scenes/content, eBook/Amazon purchase
Cultivate by Lara Casey — This book was a fine read. It wasn’t a terrible read, just not what I hoped it would be. Her first book was incredible! I had high hopes for this one, and while I did high light some things she said, I wasn’t completely impressed. I sort of felt like she repeated the same concept over and over, just in a different way. Don’t get me wrong, LOVE Lara, just not as impressed with this book. eBook in exchange for honest review
Did Not Finish/Still Reading
None currently on the list.
One by One by David A. Bednar — I’m excited to read this one. I had a bad attitude about it when I got to chapter 2 so I’m going to start over and try to keep my mind open while I read it. This is a new book by Elder David A. Bednar. I really like him as a speaker, he’s great! hardcover, free copy in exchange for review
Embracing the Broken by Tiffany Webster — If you haven’t watched Tiffany’s Hope Works speech, you need to do that now! It’s amazing and I’ve been following Tiffany ever since. I was super excited to join her community in preparation for the release of this new book she’s written! I’m super excited to read it! paperback, free copy in exchange for review
What are you reading this month?
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I had a conversation with someone recently, and it sort of lit a small fire inside my heart.
I am always trying to find validation somewhere. I’m always trying to find my worth in worldly things. I only say that because everything I’ve tried to tie my worth to, has failed. I talk a lot about failure, hard times and sadness here on this blog. It’s just been my life for a very long time.
My last therapy session was really hard. It’s kind of what I call the “graduation” session. When you don’t really have anything else to work through. You know that therapy is there, if you ever need to come back, but that you’re doing okay. Before the session was over, my therapist asked me, “Does it make you uncomfortable not being in crisis?” And I just started crying. It does. It totally does. It’s so uncomfortable for me. It’s so uncomfortable for me to just be happy, each and everyday and have “nothing” to work through. Nothing to think about or ponder about. It’s just gone.
I’m not saying that I’m 100% okay. Because we all have our fair-share of crappy days, but for the most part I’ve been doing really well. I was going to share this on my personal blog but I felt it more appropriate for here. Looking back on my blog(s), Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I notice a consistent share in what truly makes me happy. What truly matters most to me that I choose to share with the world.
My Mormon faith.
& the occasional hobby, interests, or quote goodness.
That’s what I want to continue doing. That’s really what I want to live my life doing. I did it before marriage, before college, before photography. I happily shared what I loved and I didn’t hold back. Sometimes I’m particular about what I share, because we only ever want to share what’s GOOD, #amiright? But I want to try to be more open to the goodness in my life and around me, and change that. I want to post crappy photos to my Instagram, or share about my most recent vending machine problem experience. I love it. I love love love love it.
Most importantly though, sharing my faith. I love being a Mormon. I love being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love going to Church. I love going to the temple!! I love reading my scriptures and my most favorite store in the whole wide world, is Deseret Book. It’s natural for me to feel this way. I feel most comfortable living this way because it’s me. It’s just me. It’s who I am.
I’m sorry if you dislike those who “overshare” their faith, but I’m not sorry that it’s who I am and it’s what makes me most happy in life. I do have an idea of a product I might sell if I get enough interest but that’s a secret in the works!
May we take seriously the Lord’s call to “be of good cheer, for I will lead you along.” He leads us by the Holy Ghost. May we live close to the Spirit, acting quickly upon our first promptings, knowing they come from God. I bear witness of the power of the Holy Ghost to guide us, guard us, and ever be with us, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
When Brady and I were engaged to be married, 4 years ago, we met with our Stake President to interview for our living ordinance & sealing recommends. We talked about each other, and being husband and wife. He gave us great counsel, but one thing he said is something I have struggled with but finally feel like I’m starting to get the hang of.
“Ashley, if you put your husbands happiness before yours, you will be happy.”
That was it. That was the big winner. It has been on my mind ever since. It sounds like one of those sayings that you hear from everybody.
Somewhere down the road I developed a very selfish attitude. I was sick of people being rude. I was sick of letting others be mean to me specifically. I developed this attitude that if someone expects something of me, they are expected of the same also. I noticed a very angry and selfish person shine through each day. Oh, you want trash talk Mormons? Well no wonder they all trash talk non-mormons. Or something like that. Oh, you want me to accept the LGBTQ community and support gay marriage in Utah? Well you better love your neighbor, the Mormon, who doesn’t support gay marriage, and THAT’S OKAY. It’s just irritating. Even writing this still brings up some of those feelings.
I hate it. I hate this person I’ve become. I hate the way I’ve changed. I’ve somehow become this very closed off, anger bottled up inside, complaining woman and I hate her. I’m tired of being her. I’m tired of feeling hurt, singled out, lonely, selfish…. I’m tired of anxiety and depression. I’m tired of the way it controls my life. I’m tired of letting my friends down by not showing up. I’m eternally sorry and I regret not being a better friend. I’m just tired of all the negativity in my life. The “nothing ever works out for me,” or how about the “well, with depression and anxiety, everything is 10x harder,” and while that may be true (that last one) it doesn’t give me the right to see myself as more-deserving than others BECAUSE of this difficulty I face each day.
What does this have anything to do with the title of my blog post?
I promise, I will get there.
With this new attitude or “way of life,” it started to destroy everything in my life. My friendships, my relationships with family members, my marriage relationship/friendship, my work-life, my church-life, my health & fitness, my finances…. everything. I felt like everything was falling at the drop of a hat, and it definitely was. It was around the end of April when I met with my new friend Karli. She and my sister had planned to meet up one Saturday to do weight/measurements & meal planning. My sister said that she was a previous trainer at the gym she attends, but now she does more personal training/meal planning for others. I was interested because again, I was miserable with this way of life I was living. After the meeting was over, I thought about it for like 30 mins – 1 hour before texting Karli myself. We picked a date & time to meetup. I was serious about this life change, and I knew my health was the first place any of this wanted “change” was going to happen.
On our first meeting, we recorded my weight and measurements so we knew where we were starting. We created goals together and talked about foods that I liked (or should I say, foods I DO NOT like). A couple of hours after our meeting, she emailed me with my meal plan attached. I was so freaken scared but knew deep down, I wanted this for myself. I wanted this for myself. Fast forward to today. The day I made the decision to want to make the health change that I needed, I changed. I noticed a physical change as well as a change in my every day thoughts. I honestly wanted to spend more time with my husband. I wanted to see my family and friends more. I started making an effort to go to social events (aka hanging out with friends) even though I thought I would die from anxiety. My effort at changing my attitude about and at work started working. I started CHOOSING to feel happy, to be nice to others, to do something for my husband, to just clean the freaken bathroom. I can’t tell you exactly what it is or why things in my life started changing but they just did.
You cannot make someone change or become better, or do something different. They have to want it for themselves. And until that happens, all you can do is love them.
My life is different now. I feel different now. I’m choosing reading over social media. I’m choosing private blogging over trying to be a business blogger. I’m choosing personal photography over business photography. I’m choosing my health over temporal “wants.” I’m choosing discipline/debt snowballing over obsessive compulsive/anxiety-driven shopping. I’m choosing honesty over hiding. I’m choosing God over doubts. I’m choosing the Gospel of Jesus Christ over finding joy and peace in temporal things or people. I’m choosing to smile when I wake up because I prefer to have a better day than yesterday. I choose my husband over anyone else. I am choosing to give the benefit of the doubt. I am choose to say sorry and to admit to my mistakes.
I love my husband. He is my best friend. I love spending time with him, cuddling, watching a movie, or driving in the car together. I love that he teases me and I love that he accepts my apologies. I love that, even though times have been hard, he’s choosing to be with me forever. I love that we’re growing stronger together as a team, rather than two individuals legally married. I love him. I love him so much. He is the calm to my storm and I’d be lost in life without him. Putting his happiness before mine has truly changed the happiness I experience each day. He means so much to me and it’s important to me to make sure he is happy. His happiness IS my happiness.
I cannot end this blog post without first sharing my gratitude towards my Heavenly Father. He is always there when I need someone the most. He is always there when I’m upset about how lonely I feel each day. He comforts me in ways that I never look for comfort in. He answers my prayers when I kneel humbly each day. He has blessed with me with a beautiful life, an amazing husband, a loving family and endless opportunities. Heavenly Father comes first in my life. Without Him, everything else isn’t possible.
I’m doing my best each day and as I make these new decisions to cultivate what matters most to me and the Lord, I find myself feeling happier and more at peace.
Tomorrow I mail off a form that will close up my photography business forever. I have had the most amazing time these last 3 years but I know that it is time to move forward.
If you need any referrals for any kind of photography, I know MANY amazing photographers who are good friends of mine.
I am blogging waaaay more on my personal blog (private) so shoot me an email or comment if you’d like to follow. I keep it private for the sake of my family and myself.
If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know that I’ve been called to serve in my wards Young Women presidency as the Secretary.
I remember being secretary as a Laurel in the Laurel presidency back in the day ;) It was so stinkin’ easy. I pretty much just took notes, went to meetings, and helped where needed. When Brady and I were in our first ward together as a married couple, I was also called to be the secretary in the Young Woman presidency. It more of a 3rd counselor kind of calling than it was secretary, but I still loved it nonetheless.
This time as secretary, I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO. Haha, but it’s exciting. I love doing so much all of the time. I love all of the fun, different, little or big, tasks!! All of the young women in our ward were literally babies when I was first in young women’s. So, I know them but I don’t know them. Hopefully I’ll get to know them over the next little while! :) I like to think that I’m fun. Can I really be a leader though?? Hahaha
I really really really really really loved young women’s when I was in middle & high school. It was an eat, breathe, sleep, walk, talk type of love. I guess you could say it was the time in my life that I really grew and it just so happened to be in young women’s where I found myself and God. I always felt like I belonged there and often prayed that every calling I ever had would be in young women’s. It’s obvious that it never happened (shout out to my nursery kids!!), but this time is different.
I’m not complaining or bragging. AT ALL. Because that’s very much not the case this time. My ward members are so very kind and have shown their support and love as I was sustained into this calling. So many have told me that I belong there, or they can’t imagine anyone better. I love them, and I appreciate them, but I’m just worried this is much more different from what I remember. I walked into young women’s class the first day and felt a little panic because I didn’t really know anyone and there was already so much to do and I just felt so inadequate.
It was a very humbling first day in young women’s as a leader. I know I’m only the secretary, and don’t do much that the counselors do, but I still view myself as a leader to these girls and I pray and pray that the Lord will direct me in a way that will serve these girls and show them that God loves them. I pray that they’ll have an experience in young women’s like I did, maybe not the exact same, but an experience that they’ll be grateful for. No matter how long I serve, that is my hope and prayer.
Brady and I had a really relaxed anniversary! It was on a Monday which was totally a bummer but whatevs, we had a good time! We stayed local and relaxed at home. We watched something together, and then for dinner, we went to the Cheesecake Factory Mmmmm!! So stinkin’ good! Brady had a gift card that we used. Thank goodness! That place can be expensive!! But so good.
I still can’t believe we’ve been married 4 years. 4 YEARS. I know many of you out there think that it’s nothing, but to me, that’s a long time. That’s 2 missions!! ;) I’m learning to find who I am with Brady. That probably doesn’t make any sense but I’ve struggled to leave my single life with friends behind, and be with my husband friend more! Not that it’s wrong to have friends when you’re married but I struggled with this life changing event. I love Brady with all of my heart, and we have endured so much. But when I finally decided for myself that it was time to change my nutrition and exercise habits, it literally changed everything in my life.
My relationship and friendship with Brady became stronger. I started to cherish, more, the time that we spent together. When I had free time, I would spend as much of it with him that I could before he had to go to work or something. I haven’t given Brady enough credit, and on this blog it looks like I battle this life alone, but it’s not true. Brady is the only person who has been through every teeny tiny thing with me. Like when I worked ALL of my hours for 2 months straight, with zero panic attacks OR missing work. He held me that one time I cried all day because I was physically feeling so depressed.
He is my everything and does everything, just for me. I’m grateful he is mine, and forever!!
The day before our anniversary (Sunday), we went to Church and then to my grandparents’ home for a birthday bbq. My grandparents’ birthday are 2 days apart so it was fun to celebrate both of them! Because of this, we also got to see our Lucy girl. We just love her so much and miss her everyday but are so grateful for her “foster family,” my grandparents & aunt.