Appreciation is the word of the week

Good morning!

A spirit of gratitude and appreciation has been brewing in my soul as of late.  As I continue to make my best attempt at balancing school, tutoring, dreaming big and being awesome, along with all of the demands of taking on a job with the University; I am often succumbed to emotions of doubt, confusion and defeat. While grinding and giving each project my all, there are often setbacks that seem to always arise.  Hurdles that include cancelled tutoring sessions, school tasks that often take up a significant amount of time, assessments that cost more than my earnings bi-weekly, study sessions that require my attention and precious students who are discouraged and need my heavy lifting. I often feel like my energy and spirit are drained at the end of a day and I take a bucket of discouragement home to dump on my kitchen table.  A warm bed seems like the perfect place to lay down my burdens. But my brain goes into overdrive, replaying what I could’ve done better. It is my nagging calendar reminder, preventing me from actually sleeping and is the gasoline to the fire of anxiety that swells.

Immediately after picking up mail from the post office this week, a car backed into my bumper causing minor cosmetic damage to the car.  The beloved Honda Accord now has Milwaukee war scars ‒ well more scars if I include the damage from babealicious plowing into a snow bank a few winters past. The driver of the other vehicle frantically walked up to my weeping Honda and began to spew her sob story.  What I quickly deduced was that this woman was stressed, overwhelmed, upset and slightly irrational. As I exited my vehicle to assess the damage, I peered into hers and saw two beautiful brown children, with fright all over their faces.  Her rapid fire yelling, turned into a muted whisper as my mind contemplated the emotions of these terrified babies. If you ever want to break me down, bring me a child or a puppy, YOU WIN. Before I could collect any of her information (she carried no insurance, the car had no plates, she had no license.  What info she was going to produce is still unknown to me) she’d ran to her get away chariot, jumped a curb as sparks flew from the underbody of her gloriously shitty Avalon and sped off! In shock I did the only thing a rational person in my situation would do. I stood there on the corner of Center and Teutonia and cried.  The Honda and I collectively wept. […]

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Good morning!

A spirit of gratitude and appreciation has been brewing in my soul as of late.  As I continue to make my best attempt at balancing school, tutoring, dreaming big and being awesome, along with all of the demands of taking on a job with the University; I am often succumbed to emotions of doubt, confusion and defeat. While grinding and giving each project my all, there are often setbacks that seem to always arise.  Hurdles that include cancelled tutoring sessions, school tasks that often take up a significant amount of time, assessments that cost more than my earnings bi-weekly, study sessions that require my attention and precious students who are discouraged and need my heavy lifting. I often feel like my energy and spirit are drained at the end of a day and I take a bucket of discouragement home to dump on my kitchen table.  A warm bed seems like the perfect place to lay down my burdens. But my brain goes into overdrive, replaying what I could’ve done better. It is my nagging calendar reminder, preventing me from actually sleeping and is the gasoline to the fire of anxiety that swells.

Immediately after picking up mail from the post office this week, a car backed into my bumper causing minor cosmetic damage to the car.  The beloved Honda Accord now has Milwaukee war scars ‒ well more scars if I include the damage from babealicious plowing into a snow bank a few winters past. The driver of the other vehicle frantically walked up to my weeping Honda and began to spew her sob story.  What I quickly deduced was that this woman was stressed, overwhelmed, upset and slightly irrational. As I exited my vehicle to assess the damage, I peered into hers and saw two beautiful brown children, with fright all over their faces.  Her rapid fire yelling, turned into a muted whisper as my mind contemplated the emotions of these terrified babies. If you ever want to break me down, bring me a child or a puppy, YOU WIN. Before I could collect any of her information (she carried no insurance, the car had no plates, she had no license.  What info she was going to produce is still unknown to me) she’d ran to her get away chariot, jumped a curb as sparks flew from the underbody of her gloriously shitty Avalon and sped off! In shock I did the only thing a rational person in my situation would do. I stood there on the corner of Center and Teutonia and cried.  The Honda and I collectively wept.

I am a highly empathetic person (on occasion).  So as I drove down the street, tears hanging out at the ledge of my eyelids, collecting into pools and kissing my cheeks with warm reminders of my sensitivity, I couldn’t help but think about the women who backed into the car.  My mind thought about the heartfelt monologue she delivered while standing outside of my door. I thought about the kids and how scared they looked sitting in the backseat. My sociologist brain thought about what situations led her to the point where she would operate a vehicle so recklessly with two small children’s lives in her hands.  I felt the tension, the weight, and the pressure she carried as she explained her situation and circumstances. That moment was when I started to be appreciative.

Appreciation blanketing my teary clouded eyes and I felt calm.  I don’t know what led the woman to her circumstances but what I know with certainty is that I positioned myself to be exactly where I am right now.  I made the conscious‒ and maybe even rushed, decision to leave a full-time job to chase a dream. I understood the magnitude of carrying a full-time graduate school course load.  I understood that tutoring was a business that needed to be built upon and that time was needed to nurture the business. I understood wholeheartedly that if you leave a job with little savings, money will deplete and require replenishment.   I knew that I would have to be consistent and prove my abilities for doors to open. While it may drain me and keep me awake, I am where I am, because this is where I chose to be. For that I have to be appreciative.

I am extremely fortunate.  My life and personal circumstances could be completely different.  I am climbing to my destiny and while it’s okay to acknowledge my blisters, cuts and bruises: I must not forget that I could very well be in a trench trying to dig myself out before the climb.  

In hindsight, the battle of the Honda vs. the busted, emerald, Toyota Avalon was a blessing.  It allowed me to put my life and current positioning into perspective. While it isn’t necessarily the most comfortable chair in the cottage, it’s one of the steps between too hard, and just right for me.  Everyday can’t be a good day ‒ the queen of certificates can’t get a gold star everyday. This busy schedule and brain of mine, continue to extinguish the fantasy of a good night’s rest. But I could instead be worried about a laundry list of other things like basic necessities.  

To my provider, babe, I thank you for letting me figure out my path to greatness.  For without your love, support, JOB, and cruel sense of humor none of this would be possible.  

For my current journey, my struggles, the “no’s”, the no-shows, the letdowns, the small paychecks, the few bills, the humble pie, the sacrifice, for my beautiful struggle I am grateful – as I sip my warm mug of french pressed coffee, curated by my favorite barista at my neighborhood home, Coffee Makes You Black.

Shaking off the funk: Ashley we are not a princess

I’ve concluded that the Vtine (theBpum as you know me) is a spoiled, fortunate, truly privileged young whiner!  Yes, it is true, I am one of those people who is so blessed, so favored, that when things don’t go exactly my way I crumble.  “That sounds completely insane right”, I ask with my legs crossed as I sit at my comfy kitchen table.  Drinking my $1.06 Arabian bean, partially burnt (I swear) Mcdonald’s coffee, complemented with six teaspoons of sugar and three Coffee Mate original creamers.   

Being favored and loved deeply is a blessing and a curse!  It has created a little Frankenstein and the more I am favored, the more the little monster inside me feeds and grows bigger (clearly Halloween is still on the brain). […]

I’ve concluded that the Vtine (theBpum as you know me) is a spoiled, fortunate, truly privileged young whiner!  Yes, it is true, I am one of those people who is so blessed, so favored, that when things don’t go exactly my way I crumble.  “That sounds completely insane right?”, I ask with my legs crossed as I sit at my comfy kitchen table.  Drinking my $1.06 Arabian bean, partially burnt (I swear) McDonald’s coffee, complemented with six teaspoons of sugar and three Coffee Mate original creamers.   

Being favored and loved deeply is a blessing and a curse!  It has created a little Frankenstein and the more I am favored, the more the little monster inside me feeds and grows bigger (clearly Halloween is still on the brain).

From the time I was a child, I recall being adored.  First by my parents and family members, then by my incredible church family, and later by those whom I encountered who rooted for my success.  I have been blessed with so many opportunities.  Opportunities that I did not always deserve, but others saw otherwise-millennials are crybaby “give me this, give me that, where’s my trophy” beasts because society has made us this way!

I’ve become so used to doors opening and people yelling from the frames, “come this way” as I’ve stood clueless looking up at the sky, counting the clouds and looking for marshmallow-shaped figurines to glide by in glee, from the hall leading to the door, where the person stood with a bullhorn and neon sign, waving for me to enter and receive.

I am uber blessed you guys.  I have a boyfriend I almost don’t deserve (because he is just that awesome), a family that adores me, a grandmother who is wise and my number one cheerleader, an uncle who loves me like a daughter, a cousin who is an amazing example of what it means to be selfless, while navigating how to also nurture her own dreams and aspirations, siblings who look up to me and appreciate all the things I accomplish while supporting my goals and ambitions, an expansive slew of relatives who are successful entrepreneurs, a flock of Milwaukee leaders who are truly my friends, and still I manage to find a corner to sit in and complain about having to put in the work to be a BAOS (translation: a boss, not just any boss but a woman who is recognized for her great work ethic).  Yes, I want the crown and the glory, but I just want it to fall into my lap and fit my head perfectly, frame my face well and accentuate the golden undertones of my brown skin.  “The nerve,” you think, as you shake your head and roll your eyes at me.  But boy, in this world of instant gratification, THE DEVIL THAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA, and the “participation certificate” I have been groomed to want it all simply because… I desire it.

I woke up today thinking, “Ashley, damn, black people do really get sunburn (my forehead is peeling from an amazing 6 day birthday trip to Key West, FL).  What am I going to eat for breakfast?  Don’t check Instagram, don’t check Instagram-5 minutes later I was on it for AN HOUR!  Are you really 100% committed to this tutoring thing?  Did you honestly think it was going to be easy-to be completely honest, yes I did (puffing out my chest).  Now that you see that it isn’t, what are you going to do?  How can you create a market?  Do you really want to work a job?  Are you going to get to said “job” and start acting entitled and like you don’t want to be there?-No, I don’t want to work a job.  Yes I am going to act like I have a sea salt covered saltine on my shoulder because I’m not using every ounce of my energy to grow my own dreams.  Are you in a position to continue building without making a consistent, livable wage income? (Long hard reflection).  No. Ash, we aren’t in a position to continue at this rate and maintain.  What chu gon’ do Ash?  1. Get off of Instragram-I am honestly considering a hiatus from social media because I am not controlling it, it is taking over (I am melting, melting).  But really, I am not getting depressed and jealous as I did in the past, it is just a trap and I feel pressure to keep up with maintaining it and growing a following.  It doesn’t feel healthy and contributes to my decline in happy hormones 2. Get out of the bed 3. Take a bath 4. Go get coffee 5. Blog 6. Find that Beyoncé Album, turn it on, REPEAT, crank up the volume, all your neighbors are AT WORK, MAKING MONEY (sad face-mentally slapping myself out of it) 6. Make another set of flyers 7. Call Digicopy, get them printed 8. Go to the coffee shop, ask to post it 9. Follow-up with potential customers-crap my forehead looks worse now that I’ve washed my face 10. HOMEWORK!  11. Keep reflecting on how blessed you are 12. Find a meditation or yoga class-I need intrinsic motivation.  I keep relying on other things or activities to motivate me and this could be why I dip between happy and “the world is crumbling around me”.

It is so easy to get down about things not going according to plan.  Worrying about money will put you at the lowest of lows and you start to lose focus (at least I do).  I can’t produce good work, stay true to my product and the brand I am building, or even appear content if I’m worried about a bill.  But if I don’t work this dream until the wheels fall off, I won’t be able to make money.  We all have highs and lows, but I was sitting at a low and setting up furniture in a space of funk.  I can’t be succumb to  feelings of worry and doubt.  I must continue to WORK for what I want because contrary to what I have internalized, I am not owed favor.  

Good morning!

Loved on by Black Queens in Albuquerque, New Mexico

I had the awesome opportunity to facilitate a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico  
No, I am not someone who has facilitated a conference in experiences past
But I’ve done similar facilitator roles
Like…
teach a lesson
re-teach a lesson
lead a meeting
train new hires using a curriculum
initiate uncomfortable conversations with ex-boyfriends
listen to their whack-ass arguments and use the asinine responses to build my case, come back with rapid fire, and ensure we never forgot my initial points
debate with my mother, in attempt to bribe or convince her with a scheme
Go back and forth, deliberating intellectually with teachers-in elementary school
Yep, qualifications of a facilitator if you ask me (shoulders shrugging as my head tilts towards the right) […]

I had the awesome opportunity to facilitate a conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico
No, I am not someone who has facilitated a conference in experiences past
But I’ve done similar facilitator roles
Like…
teach a lesson
re-teach a lesson
lead a meeting
train new hires using a curriculum
initiate uncomfortable conversations with ex-boyfriends
listen to their whack-ass arguments and use the asinine responses to build my case, come back with rapid fire, and ensure we never forgot my initial points
debate with my mother, in attempts to bribe or convince her with a scheme
Go back and forth, deliberating intellectually with teachers-in elementary school
Yep, qualifications of a facilitator if you ask me (shoulders shrugging as my head tilts towards the right)
I am a participating member of MEDICC, an amazing organization focused on health equity in America through implementation of the Cuban public health model

Lil’ ole me was asked to facilitate because of my engagement with youth, youth development and health equity-sounds a lot fancier than it is, trust me.
I was as nervous as a thief in a Wal-Mart line as the “greeter” asks to see your receipt and the items in your bag to ensure you aren’t stealing Axe spray and Duracell batteries

I again had never played the facilitator role, and understood that I was going to be standing in a room of highly educated professors, researchers, attorneys, doctors, healthcare professionals, funders, community health navigators, a congressman, Ms. Navajo Nation, the Vice President of the Navajo Nation, funders, investors, and sweet baby Jesus himself.

I have always thought I was smart, but honestly (don’t judge me), I’ve compared me being smart to people who hadn’t been to college. Yes, I’ve suffered from the
I’m smart, you’re impoverished,
sling a fancy word here, or there
string together a well-formulated sentence
and say it in my White voice with a condescending “nanny nanny boo boo” tone

Boy was that attitude out of the window
These people were all smart FA REAL
The jig was up!
I had prepared for the conference by participating in planning meetings and being in constant communication with the committee, so I had a good understanding of the expectations.  Nervous I still was
I felt like I wasn’t good enough to facilitate such an event
I’m a baby, and grown-ups were gonna be in the room
Soaking up the same oxygen as peasant Ashley!
In true insecure fashion I went shopping for “grown woman, yet young and trendy business attire”
I went to Nordstrom Rack and picked out the most
“professional,
but look
-it’s young and has a flair of boho”
clothes I could find
I even bought a pair of grown woman business casual grey, suede-like slides with a gold accent on the heel
And to ensure I remained comfortable yet business casual, I splurged on a pair of Lucky Brand, leather black ballet flats
I was ready to SLAY-grownup addition

Because everything I do is at the last possible minute, I went shopping the night before my flight was scheduled to leave-and failed to try on any of the girl boss items I selected because I was too lazy to take my pants off at the store

I arrived home from tutoring and errands around 9pm that evening and was ecstatic to star in a Wendy Williams “classy women” makeover.  I was pumped to model off my new look for my hilarious-yep uh huh looks good-or laugh at you if you look stupid-babe a licious.
Dress #1
Bright Coral, sleeveless with a lace applique of the same tone.  Knee length, classy.  Just classy (whips out church fan and waves it while crossing one leg over the other and bouncing my foot) The dress was a-line with a conservative v-neck.  Did I really like it?  Nope.  But it rang, “listen to me, I’ve got myself together, may I have your attention please” on the rack.
Tried it on in front of the boo; looked horrible
Did not compliment my shape AT ALL and I couldn’t for the life of my figure out who it did look good on.
I even spun the front, to the back, hoping that the tags were just sewn to the wrong side
Nope, it looked even stupider
“Babe how does it look?”
-“Ok”, he lied.
1 dress tossed in the “this isn’t gonna work” pile
Dress  #2
Navy blue, peek-a-boo shoulders with navy blue bows, accenting the sleeves that ended just above the elbow.  The dress had a nice fit without being formfitting.  It relaxed against my curves while having structure and was also knee-length.  The dress was grown up, yet adorable.  It was giving me, “I’m adorable, innocent and a grown up-look at my bronzed shoulders though” vibes
It was literally adorable.  Not my style though
1 dress in the “this is cute, but not for Ashley” pile
At this point my lip pout was forming and I was feeling disappointed in my selections
Like getting a booster (translation: a professional apparel shoplifter-a personal shopper with a hell of an employee discount) who showed up at Christmas with dork clothes instead of the latest fashions you thought would be in the bag
Dress #3
Black sleeveless, scooped neck with thin white lines that ran both vertically and horizontally to form squares, with a busy, pink-toned floral print that ran along the bottom on both the front and back sides and grazed my knee caps
The dress was literally shaped like a rectangle
But the pattern was cute and uh, classy
Tried it on, it swallowed me
I started to cry
Babe laughed
“Ashley did you try any of this on?”
What kinda question was that? “No”.
“Baby what am I gonna wear, all of this looks horrible”-this is not verbatim I used lots of adult choice words as I kicked the ugly clothes around
Traumatized.
It took me back to when I was young, and my mom made me wear the
“Ugliest,
Old-ladyish
rob you of your youth,
I’m trying to embarrass you and make sure you have both no friends and no boys looking in your direction”
clothes, she could find for church.

This downward spiraling trend continued for the remainder of the failed try on haul.
I was in full-blown panic mode, naked and crying that I had nothing to wear
Boyfriend was still filling the role of Mr. Chuckles
“You have a room, turned closet (a full bedroom), you have clothes.  Be you, it’s not about what you have on.  The stuff you bought isn’t you anyway.  Stop over thinking it”, he says.  As if it was profound.
I left my mess and went to bed, woke up and packed comfortable, regular Ashley clothes and was happy
The 3-day conference was amazing
I looked like me
I spoke with confidence
I listened to each person on the program
I listened intently
I kept the room focused
I made sure there was equity of voice
I ensured that the youth spoke and were heard
I kept time
I challenged participants to be engaged
To share
To listen, and answer what was asked
To be open to being uncomfortable
To talk about the things we needed to address but we tip-toe around as a society
To be action oriented
To leave with a clear objective
To listen
To connect
To think critically
To be honest
To trust the process
It was hard.  One of the hardest tasks but I loved it
At one point, I was struggling to keep the group moving forward in the direction we were trying to build towards together
I appreciated that strong, brilliant, supportive black women lifted me up
One of my sistahs/co-workers stopped the process and re-centered the room with her energy and guided meditation
It was needed and I thank her
She protected me
She covered me
The spirit in the room was shifting and I was reignited
Facilitating a collective planning session is a challenge when you have people from all over the US
From different backgrounds
Who serve in diverse communities with their own unique needs
Using differing methods to reach their target population

I needed to be lifted to continue cultivating the space and she saw that need
At the end of the conference, another beautiful black woman came up to me and encouraged me
The message she poured into me was truly for me
She praised me, she hugged me,
She watered me
I needed that
I received
She affirmed that I belonged in that room, commanding the space
She blessed me

I also connecting with a woman I love deep in my soul who I hadn’t seen since before leaving for Guatemala
She too supported me
Helped me
She gave a worry doll that she carried because I was on her mind while in Guatemala exploring
She doesn’t know this but I thank God for her
She is humble, brilliant, youthful, vulnerable, educated, poised, honest, real and beautiful.  I am so fortunate to have a relationship with this Queen!  To stand in the sun next to her feels amazing.

I met who I think is my soulie (translation: soul sister)
She too is black, beautiful, genuine, intelligent, humble, vibrant, radiates confidence, humorous and has a beautiful smile.  She reminds me so much of me, and we are on the same journey of finding self.  While listening to and engaging with her, I saw me.  I didn’t have to try with her; no countdown, no “I think I can” speech.  My connection with her was genuine.  It was real.

It felt amazing to be in a space with black women who possessed so much magic.  Magic they let spill over into my vessel.  Into the vessels of the rest of the women & men of different backgrounds and races in the room.  No competing, no tantruming, no stepping up onto rungs of the latter above the crowd to look down on anyone else over flared nostrils.  We lifted one another.

It felt good to be loved on by women whose traits and knowledge I aspire to attain and build.
Black girl magic potion was in the air
With my arms outstretched
Head tilted back towards the heavens
And with a smile on my face
I twirled in it

Bullet Note booking

Since I’ve been home I have been busy doing, honestly a lot of nothing (in my God honest opinion).  Aside from continuing to travel within the US, I have been private tutoring and struggling to finish my final year as a graduate student.  I am presently pursuing a dual Masters in Exceptional Education and Reading.  I can admit that I am struggling with my graduate studies because I’m not organized.  I struggle because I can’t juggle and am pretending to know how to with my eyes closed while balancing on a unicycle and uploading the video to my Instragram Story.  I am trying to balance

Since I’ve been home I have been busy doing, honestly a lot of nothing (in my God honest opinion).  Aside from continuing to travel within the US, I have been private tutoring and struggling to finish my final year as a graduate student.  I am presently pursuing a dual Masters in Exceptional Education and Reading.  I can admit that I am struggling with my graduate studies because I’m not organized.  I struggle because I can’t juggle and am pretending to know how to with my eyes closed while balancing on a unicycle and uploading the video to my Instragram Story.  I am trying to balance

building a brand

blogging

private tutoring- both seeking and maintaining clientele

traveling

keeping a house clean-it Guatemala I was spoiled and cleaning was NOT my responsibility

and being a domesticated girlfriend (I’m trying babe-a-licious)

My life is a complicated snow-globe and right now I keep shakin’ it up

To help my snow-globe settle into organized compartments I started a bullet journal/notebook

A bullet notebook is a simple way to organize life on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis  

Now, I just started using it and it is still new to me but I’m having fun creating templates that work for me

I am a sucker for art supplies and visited by local art supply store

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Art supplies are my oxygen, my water, my coconut oil, my Urban Decay setting spray, my Nair hair depilatory cream-I live for fine point, vibrant color pens

Durable, overly priced notebooks

Multipurpose, rainbow-hued sticky tabs

Silver, shiny heavy-duty rulers-that I honestly shouldn’t have bought since I’ve learned that I am incapable of drawing a straight line

Gold duct tape that I had to have in my overly ambitious moment of thinking I could embellish the black leather exterior

Fancy shamsy paper and PVA glue that I thought I would be using to further accessorize the gold “look at me” cover

Let me walk you through the process

I duct taped the cover and backing

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I then covered the duct tape in PVA glue

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I covered the duct tape and glue with the fancy shamsy paper

I allowed the artsy looking sales associate at the art store to convince me that I could do a project that was over my head.  She looked so artistic and I thought her art vibes would rub off on me

I get too excited about a task, heart rate increases, glitter chamber in my brain pulses, palms perspire and my wallet opens willingly

On top of the fancy shamsy paper I applied hella (translation: lots of) layers of PVA glue-this may be where I went wrong

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I then set the notebook out to dry

FOR SEVEN DAYS

It dried to a tacky finish

Epic fail

I used my new creation to rip off my leg hairs-literally

As my eyes swelled with tears and my lip trembled-intro to poking out

My heartless-compassion deprived-babe-a-licious commenced to chuckle at my pain

That gave me courage to wipe away those defeated tears and readjust my lip

I decided to simply rip off the tacky, hairy mess of a cover and stick with the classic leather black binding, thank God it wasn’t disturbed by my horrible Frankenstein-ish creation

Sometimes simple is the best way to go

After wasting a week on a failed DIY, I was ready to put some content in this bullet journal

Again, doin the most

I decided I wanted to use stencils and stampers to create a traditional monthly calendar

This is how I concluded that I don’t know how to use a ruler to make a straight line

I started out marking plots, then trying to connect the plots with a straight line

Line, not straight

I figured it didn’t work out because I was too anxious and excited

Attempt 2

I went a little slower

Result

I slowly drew a crooked line

Now I started crying and throwing things around

the genius-of course I can-babe-a-licious showed me a demo after laughing the tears back into their ducts

Attempt 3

I drew triangles at the points and connected the points of the triangles

It was looking hopeful

Result

Fail- Another

Crooked

Line

I concluded I was doing too much

After ripping out 5 pages of expensive, quality, artist fantasies paper

I went back and decided to keep it simple

I did what was comfortable for me, basic bullet notebook format

It slowly started to come together

I’d finished a basic monthly calendar

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Weekly calendar

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And stopped there because it was midnight

I’m off to a good start bullet notebooking!

Glitter is settling successfully into categories that  make sense and will promote by productivity!

Graduate school is kicking my tail!  But getting organized is making tasks do-able and gives me a clear visual

I’m off to a good start, for now!

Yes, I am aware that I haven’t written for two days, but I have been traveling and am in Atlanta.  Wanna keep up with my whereabouts? Follow me on Instagram @ashmvtine

#theBpumwrites

 

I’m back and I’m better

Remember how I was pouting, and wishing it was time to come back home while I was in the home stretch of living in Guatemala?  
Well I dunno why-I’m kidding.  
I am happy to be back home.  I am still high on thoughts of living out a full, rich, and abundant life
my dream of being an entrepreneur

I have been slacking in terms of blogging (and lots of other things) as of late.  

I’ve missed you guys!!

If you’ve missed the news,

I’m back in the US

Remember how I was pouting, and wishing it was time to come back home while I was in the home stretch of living in Guatemala?

Oh wait, I wasn’t blogging about it, I was just sharing it with my lifesaving-uncle-to-the-rescue and laugh-at-your-pain-hun-bunz 

Well I dunno why-I’m kidding.  

I am happy to be back home.  I am still high on thoughts of living out a full, rich, and abundant life

my dream of being an entrepreneur

and the desire to learn, grow, blossom and see the world.

In a previous blog post, I wrote of how I have these grandiose ideas of themes to blog on, content to build, stories to share.  All this awesomeness keeping me awake at night as my brain goes into overdrive conjuring up a master plan.  For me to awaken feeling overwhelmed and produce…nothing.  

I am my own worst enemy in terms of productivity.  

I can quickly consume my mind with feelings of self doubt.

I persuade myself that tasks are daunting and out of reach.  

All of the glitter and confetti that’s housed in the “dreamy and artistic” lobe of my brain which makes guest appearances at night

settles when I wake

Is swept up and collected in a Ziploc bag as the sun rises

my memory erased by the Men in Black that live in the “logical” part of my brain.  

Until nightfall when the awesomeness busts out of the Ziploc vacuum seal, taking freedom of the red and blue stripes separated, only to marry each other, Mr. & Mrs. Purple

taking over again by morning.  

I do hella procrastinating (translation: I do lots of procrastinating) and it only makes me hide and avoid being awesome.  Come through glitter!

To challenge myself to secrete awesome-sauce I am pledging to a 30 day blog streak-big gulp, smh. I know, “how are you going to give yourself a challenge, and you are challenged with follow through?”  I haven’t quite figured out the logistics, but if I speak it into the universe, I’ll burp glitter.  

I have done tons of cool things since returning!  I can’t tell you anything about any of my adventures because I fear that I won’t have content for the next 30 days.  You know what, let’s go all out, beast mode.  I, Ashley awesome-sauce Valentine am going to blog EVERY FREAKIN’ DAY UNTIL OCT 31!  BAM-BOOM, drops mic-and picks it back up because I’m not finished yet.

Clears throat.  

I will share what I’ve been up to since returning home to no job, a bank account set on auto-pay with no incoming direct deposits, a hefty list of people I need to reach out to since cracking my shell allowing the social butterfly I wish I was to peek her head, and a business waiting for me to water and allow it to flourish. Oh how I miss swiveling around in an office chair doing none of my assigned tasks and receiving a full paycheck for making sure said chair was not a hazard and held up to his factory warranty terms.  Life is real for this dreamer turned entrepreneur-as I fall out on the cool, roasted almond-colored hardwood floor in my cluttered living room.  My glitter powers don’t like cleaning up (it’s glitter, glitter is messy)

Until tomorrow!

#TheBpumReturns

Places the mic gently back into the stand and exits stage left

And today, I visited a small, local printing company

Today my work led to me traveling a bit, here in Coban with my boss.  I enjoy these moments because I get to explore parts of Coban that I wouldn’t alone.  Whenever my boss is here, I notice places and things I overlook when I’m alone.  I can let my guard down slightly. Take in my surroundings, instead of walking around more paranoid than I would like to admit. We made a few stops as we entered and exited the 10 passenger shuttle that became overtaken with supplies for the hotel.  Our last stop for the day, a small printing company. […]

Today my work led to me traveling a bit, here in Coban with my boss.  I enjoy these moments because I get to explore parts of Coban that I wouldn’t alone.  Whenever my boss is here, I notice places and things I overlook when I’m alone.  I can let my guard down slightly. Take in my surroundings, instead of walking around more paranoid than I would like to admit. We made a few stops as we entered and exited the 10 passenger shuttle that became overtaken with supplies for the hotel.  Our last stop for the day, a small printing company.
I’ll share, initially I wasn’t impressed with the idea of helping or working there for a few hours.  Let me backtrack and clarify.  I do a small amount of graphic design and needed to collaborate with the printing company to print a few tasks that I had been working on for what felt like forever!
I initially was excited because I got to see my little projects come to life but quickly overwhelmed when I was making last-minute revisions on a rigged keyboard.  I kid you not, none of the special characters were where they were supposed to be.  While the keys were in their respective locations, the functions were all screwed up.  What should’ve taken a few minutes took three hours as I strategically pressed each key while holding down the shift key with my pinky to figure out where each function was hiding-the worst game of “hide & seek” ever.
Even with my glasses on, I squinted at both the screen and keyboard as I hit the
question mark key for underscores,
the plus sign key for a parenthesis
the backspace button for enter
and several other unimaginable combinations.
It was like I was at one of those fancy coke machines and hit strawberry lemonade for water, Sprite for Coke, and Mello-Yellow for french vanilla cappuccino-don’t you wish they had a button for that?
I exercised the super-human patience that I bottle up and save for children, and made it through.
As I found myself growing frustrated and irritated at the tedious task, I paused and took in my surrounding.  I was literally sitting in the production area of a printing company watching a staff of both men and women create booklets, packets, textbooks, wedding cards and invitations by hand.  While they do the printing using commercial equipment; the binding, cutting of the paper, attaching of ribbon, glitter, glitz and personalized touches are all done tediously one-by-one.  By hand.
I watched a gentlemen sitting next to me carefully measure with a metal ruler where to cut the cover, apply the adhesive and attach the cover to the rest of the booklet.  I watched an abuelita measure and cut 500 ribbons to then tie delicately to tiny addressed cards that were cut individually by hand.

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I watched a younger woman hot glue those ribbons to the fronts of 200 cards.  I watched in awe as another women carefully drew a wavy line on each invite where the design was then cut out with a sharpened scissor, one card at a time.

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I couldn’t stop thinking about how shaky my hand would be.  The line originally planned to have a slight wave would be an unattractive zig-zag of some sort.
My whining and hair rubbing stopped.
I am always in awe when watching Guatemalan people work.  I never hear them complain, ask for their break, sigh, mumble under their breath or sit with a calculator, furiously calculating how much they make a day and contemplating if they can replace that income doing something else-I know I’m not the only person who does this!
When I finally finished adding the finishing touches to my designs, I walked over to one of the large industrial sized machines (I have no clue what it’s function was, I was just excited to be close enough to touch it).  I touched and carefully examined various paper textures to determine which would be best with the assistance of a staff member.  To see the amount of pride they took is showing me each pattern, texture, thickness and explain each slight variation I was impressed, beaming with excitement.
I couldn’t stop looking around, watching everyone creating amazing product all by hand.  I have grown accustom to going to Kinko’s or Digicopy watching lazy college kids hit print.  This was the real deal and I was standing next to the most amazing machines that did who-knows-what!
I paged through some of the work they’d completed for other clients and the precision to detail was amazing.  I couldn’t get over the fact that each binding was glued BY HAND!  Each staple, manually added.  Each fold, cut, crease done with care and special attention given to each detail.
It made me reflect on all the sloppy, shlopped together (translation: pulled together with no attention to it’s content-submitted for the sake of submission) work I had done over the years.  Each thrown together college paper, every copy and pasted file I submitted, every homework assignment from my youth crinkled up with smeared ink stains from where my mother made me cry as she “helped me” do my homework.
I vowed then to never turn in sloppy final products again and to take more pride in the tasks I complete.
You would think the products they sold were expensive, they are very reasonable.

I asked them if they considered buying more commercial products so they could be more efficient.  They laughed, told me they were efficient.  That it’s easier to do everything by hand to ensure everything is it’s best.  Doing everything by hand ensures that they have no customer complaints about quality and they keep long-term customers who consistently return.  Everyone agreed that they would rather have long-term loyal customers than to be fast and sloppy.

Makes sense to me!
I left, beaming. Happy that I could share the afternoon with them, talk to local business owners, watch them work skillfully and send me off wiser than I was when I entered.
Next time!
#SheJumped and vows to never give someone else a half-assed representation of my awesomeness

OH HAPPY DAY

As I wake up and start my normal “routine” (read my last post if you want to know what this fascinating process is like) I can’t help but to stop smiling because shawty is happy (translation: Ashley Valentine feels happy and is in a happy place).  Prior to departing the US in mid June I shared with my therapist how happy I was at that time, and how I was nervous that the gleeful spirit I housed would dwindle. I was overcome with thoughts that I could be back in my self-fed and created sunken place.  It’s been more than 2 months and although I do have bad days; everything doesn’t always go my way and of course I get lonely; I am overall still happy. […]

HAPPY SUNDAY (red confetti falls from the sky-oh and balloons.  Lots and lots of balloons)!

As I wake up and start my normal “routine” (read my last post if you want to know what this fascinating process is like) I can’t help but to stop smiling because shawty is happy (translation: Ashley Valentine feels happy and is in a happy place).  Prior to departing the US in mid June I shared with my therapist how happy I was at that time, and how I was nervous that the gleeful spirit I housed would dwindle. I was overcome with thoughts that I could be back in my self-fed and created sunken place.  It’s been more than 2 months and although I do have bad days; everything doesn’t always go my way and of course I get lonely; I am overall still happy.

When I have moments where I feel down, I concentrate on all the positives.
I am traveling the country of Guatemala, planning a business, closing deals that guarantee income streams when I return home, living abroad, experiencing new opportunities, making money, eating well, going to the gym, managing this stubborn adult acne, sleeping in a bed where I feel safe and making my own decisions.  I can say that I am in a much better position than I was in 5-6 months ago.  Then, I fixated on all that was wrong with my life and why it wasn’t as awesome as the lives you get momentary glimpses into on Instagram or during brief face-to-face encounters.

When loneliness comes over me, I try to sit with it, then let it pass.  Loneliness is a normal emotion to feel.  Rather than quickly jumping on the phone to call someone and feed my need for attention, I process exactly what is happening that makes me feel that way.  I have honestly never enjoyed spending time alone.  When alone I have been quick to call someone.  This has resulted in me spending hours talking about nothing (other people and their problems).  Or resorted in me occupying my time with people just so I wouldn’t have to spend it alone.  That led to tons of asinine decisions that I won’t get specific about and moments I can’t take back all because I was “lonely”.  Loneliness for me equates to idle time.  Idle time is generally spent making decisions off the cusp that aren’t thought out & have adverse effects.

I’ve began spending my lonely moments getting to know myself and being uncomfortable (I say uncomfortable because that’s exactly how it feels).  One lesson I have learned is that I have to be okay feeling uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable is where I think my best when doing true self-reflection.  Aside from reflecting, I try to find ways to occupy my time alone.  No, this time isn’t always spent productively (I don’t always write, or read a book, or plan out my goals, or watch a Netflix documentary on why I should be a vegan, pluck the hairs that meet in the middle to create my unibrow, or strategize how to become a baws- that’s my attempt to say “boss” like Rick Ross), but the feeling of loneliness subsides.  I’m never in a constant state of feeling alone because I know that regardless of the hour, I can hop on the phone and call someone to entertain me, laugh me out of crying, and comfort me.  I can also pray because that always leads to be falling asleep somewhere in the middle of the prayer and who can feel lonely in their sleep?

I’ve grown wise enough to not waste my valuable time talking about others.  I have this theory that when people run out of productive things to say, or have finished talking about what they have going on in their life, dead air’s filled with negativity because you have nothing else worth saying but insist on still talking.  How can you truly be happy, if you are speaking ill of others?  Maybe someone else can, I wasn’t.  The energy I used to try to crush someone else was dampening my ability to shine.  What I thought made me funny and witty was indeed a character flaw that needed checkin’.  How foolish to sit around being jealous of people, sharing this bitter jealousy with others then sitting in the same space as the person who I had thought enough about to discuss in private and smile in their face all while soaking up even more fuel for my jealous fire (shaking my head at the thought of my own ways- tisk tisk Valentine).  If you’re walking around talking badly about people, just stop.  You’re like a balloon filled with flatulence releasing that toxic gas into the atmosphere.  You stink!  Really, just stink!  Figure out what it is about that person you

1. secretly desire, or

2. dislike to much that drives you to speak openly about it openly.

If it’s something you want, stop talking about them and use that time and same ehnagee (translation: energy in my Brooklyn accent, because I like the way they pronounce energy with such power) to work towards the things you want.  If it’s because you dislike something they’re doing consider just making a mental note and avoid making the same “mistake” if that’s what you see it as.

While on the phone with friends, babe-a-licious, or family, when I run out of things to share and them out of stories to tell & updates to brief me on, I get off the phone.

Not eloquently either.

Rather abruptly I’ll say my go-to, “Okay, that’s all I have to say, I don’t have anything else to talk about.  Call you later”.  This prevents the gossip demon from submerging from it’s grave (it’s still kind of shallow, I’m working on throwing more dirt on it and packing it down well).  I no longer want to house that spirit within the soul that I am working on repairing and growing.  I’m going back to good-ole’ motto: “If you have nothing nice to say…” you know the rest.

Lately, every time I sit to write about my travels, food I’ve eaten and experiences I’ve had I always end up straying off topic and landing somewhere in the “Get Yo’ Life Together” section of the blogging world.

Mission update people on Guatemala failed!

But this journey has turned into one of self-work and self-reflection with sprinkles of googly-eyed tourist throughout.
I promise the next post will be ON TOPIC, I swear.
Until next time!

#SheJumped and is focused more on building, cleansing and growing, and less on walking around taking pictures of random stuff and telling you about it.  But I swear I’m going to get back to it because that’s why many of you come here.  Pinky Swear! Don’t unsubscribe yet!

Oh I’ve the perfect song this week too.  Enjoy

Sister Act 2-Oh Happy Day