(Almost) Thirty, Flirty and Thriving

As of today, I just have 4 months left of my twenties.  Since about age 25, I had been dreading this countdown.  Would I have accomplished all that I wanted to by age 30?  Would I be able to check the box on on those socially imposed life landmarks?  Would I feel like an adult and did I want to?  A scary list of questions to a 25 year old.  A woman who felt completely lost and offtrack and definitely not half way done with her "To Do By Age 30" list.

But time doesn't slow down as you get older. If anything it speeds up.  So I have been taking stock of where I am and how I feel about it.  The truth is, I couldn't be happier.  The biggest reason being, that I stopped caring about where I am "supposed" to be at by now or what anyone else thinks of me.  I stopped caring about what my life looked like to other people and started caring much more about what my life looked like to me.  I stopped worrying about whether I would be happy with where I was at my age 30 and focused on if I was happy in the moment.

My twenties have been filled with a lot of highs and lows.  So many moments, that built character, strength and taught me to also be vulnerable.  My twenties forced me to prove to myself what I was made of.  They challenged me.  The decade built me up, tore me down and taught me how to find my stride again.  I learned to fail in my twenties.  I also learned how to recover from failure.

In the last 10 years, I have had 9 jobs and two internships, ranging from camp counselor, to retail associate, to PR girl, to event planner, to marketing manager. I have moved 10 times, with an 11th happening in the next month.  I have lived in 3 different states (granted one was just for a summer) and two countries.  I've fallen in love, had my heart broken, given up on love, then found someone who just might make it worth believing in again (which is a pretty recent development). I've graduated from college, gotten married and gotten divorced.  I've watched a parent develop severe Alzheimer.  I've gotten into and out of a decent amount of debt.  I've started a business.  I've cried more times than I can count, and laughed at least 10 times the amount of tears.  I've changed my career, my goals and my plans.  I've changed my priorities and opinions.

Most importantly,  I've learned how to be happy with who I am, where I am, and how I got here.

I have no idea what my 30's have in store for me, but I am ready to take them on... in 4 months, because I'm not in a rush.


When Life Gives You Lemons...

No one in school ever asks you how you want to feel when you grow up, they just ask what you want to be.  For years I thought I had to "be" something.  I had to fit into a mold designated by a title.

Account Executive.

Enrollment Councilor.

Fundraising Coordinator.

Online Communications Manager.

The problem was the titles never quite fit me.  So I became an entrepreneur.  Unfortunately, it takes time and money to grow a business.  With no one else to support me and no maternity leave for infant businesses while I nurture my little baby company, I had to keep working another job, a job that had lost it's appeal months thanks to being overworked and under valued.  To earn some extra money over the holidays I picked up a part time job at lululemon.  I thought I would save money, get some new workout clothes and be done with it by mid-january.  Then I got laid off from my full time job.

I was lost.  I wasn't interested in looking for jobs and thanks to a decent severance package and my part time job, there was no urgency to find one quickly.  I didn't want another title or the pressure to become worthy of that title.  I went on a few interviews, but after a couple weeks, I decided I was going to leave my career future up to fate, which is really unlike me since I typically like to have a plan at all times.  I figured, the best times in my life have been when I let life guide me instead of trying to force it into a new direction.

So I started to think about what I did want to do and how I wanted to feel:
I knew I wanted to make things look pretty.
I knew I wanted to make people happy.
I knew I wanted to give people knowledge.
I knew I enjoyed the feeling of success from a sale.
I knew I wanted to travel.

Unfortunately, unless you are a contestant on the bachelor, Pretty Maker, Joy Enthusiast, and Free Spirit Saleswoman are not real  job titles.  Lucky for me, I got to make things pretty as a wedding planner and designer.  I get to style photo shoots for my business and take pretty pictures for our website- that need was fulfilled.  Also lucky for me, I was already working part time for lululemon, where I got to celebrate people's accomplishments, educate them on our products and enjoy the success of hitting sales goals.

Only one problem,  I was only making about a third of the income I had before and my severance and insurance were about to run out.  So I did the math,  how long could I survive like this? How long could my savings last?  How long could I trust life to just work it's self out before I went into crisis mode or had to move into a box?  I decided it was time the universe and I had a chat.

Ashley: Okay Universe,  I am giving you until the end of February to figure this out. I'm putting my full trust and faith in your divine plan until that deadline.   At that point, I am going to take over again and find a job, even if I hate it.

Universe: (Cosmic version of) Pshh, I got this. 

So I focused on the good in each day.  I had fun at work.  I had fun working out.  I started eating really clean (I'm doing Whole30 and it's awesome and I will post about it soon).  Overall, I just practiced gratitude everyday, even when it wasn't easy.

Then one day, one of my fellow lemons sent me a job posting.  This particular coworker was my accountabilabuddy, my partner established at a staff meeting, to help each other reach our goals over the holiday season.  My goals were to lose 10 pounds and to find a new full time job. I took it as a sign from the universe that I should send in my resume.  A week passed and I heard nothing.  I had kind of forgotten about it until my acountabilabuddy asked me about it.  Upon her reminder, I emailed again.  A few days later I had an interview and within 36 hours a job offer.  But not just any job offer,  one I am really excited about.  One that will combine everything I want to be and feel when I grow up.  My favorite part, is that I don't even know what my title is and I don't care (but I am kind of hoping for Joy Enthusiast).

Over the last 4 months,  life has figuratively and literally given me lemons, lulu and otherwise.  And thank goodness it did.  Without meeting and building relationships with the amazing and quite frankly wonderful souls that work at and with lululemon, I would not have enjoyed the last few months so much.  It's guaranteed I wouldn't have gotten a new job that I am so excited about.  And I wouldn't have had the support to try a new eating plan or work out consistently.  lulu gave me a place to go, people to laugh with and things to do when I was lost.

Without getting laid off, I wouldn't have looked for a new job.  Instead, I would have continued to feel beaten down and tired and uninterested in the life I was creating. Plus, if I hadn't gotten laid off, I certainly wouldn't have gone into crisis saving mode.  Now, I can finally buy my first home.

If nothing else, this post is just to remind you that sometimes things suck and that's okay. Sometimes, you need to be uncomfortable (and maybe even a smidge carefree) and trust that life will work itself out.  When an opportunity comes your way, take it.  Approach every day from a place of love and gratitude because any day is better than no day at all.

When life gives you lemons,  pucker up!  We could all use a little tart in our lives every now and then!


Beauty in the Breakdown

Obviously I don't come around here often.  I don't know if it is because of lack of time or lack of interest.  Not that I am not interested in writing, or the other bloggers that I have built relationships with, but interest in sharing myself with the world.  For a long time this blog was a way for me to feel understood and feel connected, a way for me to air out my thoughts and get feedback.  Since moving back to Arizona, I either haven't needed that or I have decided to be more guarded.  Part of me feels like, as a business owner, it is my duty to be more of a brand than an individual.  Then again, so many of the brands I am a supporter of stem from a connection to it's owners.  In a lot of ways though, I have become more hesitant to share my inner musings with the world in this space.

But today, I had to write.

Maybe it's because for the first time in my life, I was laid off.  I can't say I am unemployed, because for whatever reason, intuition inspired me to pick up a seasonal job, that I happen to love.  And of course, I still have Your Jubilee.  Somehow, despite all that, part of me feels defeated and a little bit like a failure.  I hate failing.  But who really likes it?

Maybe it's because I am the only single girl left in the world- my world at least.  I am so happy for all my friends who have found great partners.  Their happiness makes me believe that its still out there for me, but also makes me wonder how I will possibly find it.  I'm convinced that traditional dating only really happens to a select few.  After multiple attempts, I'm equally convinced that online dating isn't my thing. I'm not even sure if I want to be in a relationship right now- but maybe that is because it isn't really an option?

Maybe it's because I am teetering at the edge of my emotional threshold.  My grandmothers mental faculties are getting worse by the day.  All my plans for my life hang in the balance thanks to an unsure financial future.  And trying to stay positive about it all is just plain exhausting.

Then there is this whole pressure to be in a certain place in life by the time I'm thirty.   I feel like I have been running at my goals full speed for the last year, only to look down to find I am on a treadmill. In so many ways it feels like I am starting all over from scratch.

Living at home (for good reason, but if I don't find a new job, it will be out of necessity)

Hunting for a salaried job with health benefits.


It's as if I just graduated from college all over again, except instead just coming off of an amazing summer in London, I am coming off of months of career burnout.  All I want to do is escape. I want to give a hearty embrace to a bit of irresponsibility and take off for a trip around the world, leaving my bills to sort themselves out upon my return.

But irresponsibility has never been in my nature.  I can't ignore my bills, my commitments or the fact that I haven't, in my mind, earned the right to be frivolous.

I suppose all I can really do is rely on faith.  Faith that the universe has something great in store for me.  Faith that in all this breakdown, beauty will sprout.  Faith that everything, even this series of setbacks, happen for a reason.  Faith that if I just continue to approach life from a place of love, love will one day fill my life again.


Oh... Hey!

Yes, I am still alive and kicking.  I can't believe it had been over two months since I have written anything here.  In truth, there have been a number of times when I have longed to just sit down and write, but unfortunately time has not allowed.  In fact, it really isn't allowing now, but I just had an overwhelming need to write and get back to this place.

So, hey!  What's up everybody?  Does anyone even come here anymore?  Well here are a few updates on me, in case you are wondering!

My wedding and events planning business, Your Jubilee, is going well.  In fact, you guys should totally check out our website (because that's where I spend most of my blogging time these days).  We have lots of info for brides to be on trends and tips!  Plus we do some really fun projects, like a gorgeous bohemian romance photo shoot!  Meanwhile, my day job is kicking my ass with long hours and heavy work loads.

One of my favorite shots from our bohemian shoot!

I'm still working on sweating sexy back!  I'm still pretty obsessed with Fit Republic, but have recently started to get really into spin!  I also started working with a nutritionist. I even forced some of my friends to work out with me on my birthday! I still have about 30 pounds to shed before I start training for my first sprint triathlon.  I've started looking into bikes, and tri coaches, because I suck at running, never learned how to ride a bike and I feel like I have the potential to drown when I am in a large body of water.  All that said, I still want to do it.  I am hoping to begin training in the new year.  Are any of you guys into triathlons?  If so, let me know your tips!
Birthday burpies at the gym!

I went to Vegas with some of my favorite people in the whole world.  We had an awesome weekend zip lining across the Rio, lounging by the pool, seeing the Britney Spears concert and drinking way too much!

Vegas for Britney

And I am dating.  It's true!  I have actually been dating a bit.  Of course by that I mean I have gone a handful of first dates and a pinch of second dates, but it's a start.  Throw in lots of events, long work hours and a few Netflix binges and that about sums up the last couple months of my life!  I'm hoping to make this a more regular thing, but just in case that doesn't happen, I leave you with this thought:


Oh Hey Stranger

I figure it's time I post my monthly (not on purpose) post.  I always have these grand plans to post more regularly, but then life happens, and boy oh boy has it been happening.  Since my last post, Meagan and I did our first bridal show, which brought lots of new brides for the year ahead and we couldn't be more excited!  I started a new nutrition plan, thanks to Tone It Up and I am finally seeing pounds really melt off.  Nutrition isn't the only thing at play! I joined a new new gym called Fit Republic, and let me tell you, I am an obsessed "citizen"!  Let me give you the run down on all these awesome new updates real quick!

The bridal show was insane.  In just under 6 hours, we got to meet with hundreds of the 3000 brides in attendance.  It was both exhausting and fantastic!  Things are really starting to take off for our little baby business Your Jubilee.  We couldn't be more proud of the work that has gone into making our business grow with integrity.  Seriously, I don't know if I have ever been more proud of a professional achievement and we are just getting started!

A few friends and I went in together on the Tone It Up nutrition plan and I am pumped about my results just 4 weeks in.  I love the variety of food and recipes the plan offers!  I didn't know that Brussel Sprouts (Ill be posting my favorite brussel sprouts and shrimp recipe soon) are quite possibly the most delicious vegetable in the world!  Plus the Tone It Up community definitely keeps me motivated.  I definitely feel like this has been a lifestyle change and a little over a week ago, the perfect gym opened to compliment all my work in the kitchen.

You might call me a little obsessed with Fit Republic, but when you combine some of the best fitness coaches/instructors in their fields with a state of the art, gorgeous facility, it's hard not to drink the kool-aid!  Basically Fit Republic has taken all of your favorite boutique gyms (Hot Yoga, Regular Yoga, Spin, Crossfit, and Body weight training (including HIIT, TRX, Barre and Boxing) and put them all in one place.  I swear to you I have never sweat so much in 10 days in my life.  I always leave class feeling empowered, motivated and pumped for my next class.  Plus their smoothies are craveable and the locker room is luxurious.  I love the little community that is building around this place and I can't wait to see how the gym grows and how I shrink!

So that's just a snapshot of my life over the last month.  Here's a few more snapshots to boot!


Adventures in Online Dating

Hello, my name is Ashley and I am an online dater.  Yes, it's true.  Why online you ask?  Well, I don't go out much and when I go out, it's usually to spend time with my friends.  I work two full time jobs- hence I don't go out much.  But even with my sometimes hectic schedule, I feel like I am ready to be in a relationship again.  I'm pretty much always attached to a computer or my phone, so online just seemed like the way to go.  Besides, you can only peruse the beer isle at the grocery store so many times on Friday after work.

This isn't my first online dating rodeo.  About 4 years ago, in an effort to learn how to date after 7 years with the same guy,  I decided to create a profile on plenty of fish.  I had the opportunity to go on some of the worst dates of my life, but it was definitely amusing.  I went out with a guy that magically transformed from a witty doctorate student into a whiny and spiteful child after I beat him in a friendly game of miniature golf.  I had sushi with a kind eyed man that told me all about the time his last girlfriend got charged with attempted murder after she tried to shoot him.  I met a Canadian that told me he was looking to marry a nice girl because he was illegally in the country selling flameless candles.  A very sweet guy took me to a fancy restaurant and had the chef prepare a custom 7-course meal for us- it was our first date and we ran out of things to talk about after course three. I met a few other guys, that were nice, but there was no chemistry and then finally, I met a guy that became my boyfriend, which lasted about 18 months.

A couple months ago, I decided to give online dating another shot.  This time, I decided to step up my game and actually pay for a membership to Match.com as well as post a profile on plenty of fish and to round out the trio, I'm on Tinder (mostly just to pass the time when I can't sleep.  There is something so entertaining about swiping left or right.).  Everyone says tinder and plenty of fish is where you go to find someone to sleep with and match is where you go to find a relationship. Well, so far, I can't say I am overly impressed with any of the sites.

During this, my second attempt at online dating, I have only actually gone out with one guy whom I met on POF.  This one guy spent 45 minutes telling me ghost stories after asking "So how do you feel about ghost stories", to which I answered, "uh, I'm pretty indifferent".  I guess I should have said I wasn't into them?

So why only one guy in the last few months?  Well,I guess it's because I find myself saying no a lot.  No, I don't want to send you "naughty pictures".  No, I don't want you to send me a picture of your penis or anything else that's phallic. No, I am not going to come hang out and drink a bottle or two of wine at your place- that's not a first date, that's an episode of Law and Order: SVU.  No, I don't want to hook up, especially after you just spent the last two hours slut shaming a mutual "friend".  No, I don't want to tell you my bra size or send you a picture of my cleavage. No, I'm not interested in supporting you and giving up my desire to have children because you don't want them.  These are all things I have actually had to say to men.

To be honest, they whole thing is leaving me pretty disappointed.  Disappointed in my apparent dating options.  Disappointed in the women that have encouraged this mentality. And disappointed, that apparently all I am in this online "dating" world is a set of boobs with a vagina attached.

What happened to asking a girl what she likes to do for fun (outside of the bedroom), or even what she does for a living.  What happened to being interested in people, not just sex.  I know there are a lot of people that have success with online dating (and hey for 18 months, I was one of them), but I am dying to know their secret.  What am I doing wrong?  Why are my modest but cute pictures and (what I think is a) witty profile only attracting this type of man?  Or have all the good men given up on online dating and if so, where did they go?  Someone please point me in that direction.

Well, since I already paid for 6 months on Match, I am going to continue to sift through an endless stream of shirtless bathroom pics and photos of guys posing with a tiger (seriously, where have all these tigers come from?) and stick it out for a while longer.  If nothing else it will give me more material to write about and maybe if I'm really lucky, it will bring me someone that is actually looking for a meaningful relationship.  Fingers crossed!

Have you tried online dating?  What has your experience been?  Please share it with me!


30 Before Thirty: Revisited

Exactly 2 years ago today (thanks Timehop app), I made a list of 30 things I wanted to do before 30.  At the time I had 1200 days to mark all these things off my list.  As of today, I have 464 days.

After reading through this list (that I have barely looked at since creating ), I have realized a couple things.  First, 27 year old Ashley was a bit delusional about money still.  It would have cost me thousands of dollars to complete all the things on this list.  Oh 27 year old Ashley, you are cute!  Second, some of the things on this list, I really have no desire to do or just aren't a priority.  Third, the really important things are ready to be crossed off.

With Just 464 days to go, I am reevaluating some items and replacing some things.  Her'es a look.
  1. Go skydiving-Nope not even remotely interested in this one now.  It's not that I don't want to do it, it's just not something I feel like I have to do before 30.  I'll do it someday and that's enough for me.
    Replacement: Buy a nice couch- Is that weird?  I just want to invest in a nice couch that I really love (along with furnishing my next place with lots of pretty things) 
  2. Vacation in Italy - Nope!  Actually Italy isn't even at the top of my list anymore.  Again, I know I will make it there someday, just not before 30.
    Replacement: Visit somewhere I have never been.
  3. Learn to golf- I haven't done this yet, but I would still like to, so Golfing, you get to stay.  
  4. Buy a home- I'm keeping this on the list, but I don't think I will actually be able to buy a home until I am thirty.  Who knows, maybe life will surprise me!
  5. Begin graduate school- I don't know if I want my Masters degree anymore, and I don't know where I would have time to fit it in.
    Replacement: Continue my education through classes and workshops.
  6. Get paid to blog. Check! So what if it was only a few times?
  7. Get a DSLR camera- Still hoping I get one.  I do us my grandparents, but I would like a fancy one of my own.  
  8. Road trip across the U.S.-staying on the list. 
  9. Pay off all credit card debt- If everything stays on track, this will happen in approximately 6 months!  Hooray!
  10. Reach 500 followers on my blog-Check, and a name change too!

  11. Host a Favorite Things party- No, just no.  While I'd like to give away nice things to people, I can't afford that.
    Replacement: Donate my time and extra things to people less fortunate.   
  12. Have season tickets to a professional sports team- While it would be cool to be a "regular at a sporting venue, I'll settle for something a little easier.
    Replacement: See my first live NFL game- it's true, I've never been!
  13. Go on a cruise- planning to go in January!
  14. Go scuba diving- There is certification that has to happen. That sounds time consuming. 
    Replacement: Go snorkeling
  15. Take a winery tour of Napa Valley- I am amending this on to just take a winery tour.
  16. Move to a new state- (and then move back)

  17. Lose 50 lbs.- 20 down... about 65 more to go.
  18. Run a 1/2 marathon-I just don't think i like running enough to ever run 13.1 miles.  
    Replacement: Complete a sprint triathlon-
    I could totally run a 5K swim a half mile and (learn how to) ride a bike 12 miles
  19. Learn to paddle board- Why I didn't try this while I was living in CA I will never know.  I did go on a few kayaking adventures though!
  20. Learn how to ride a bikewhich will be of paramount importance for the triathlon- see above.  
  21. Get a dog- I need a companion.
  22. Do an Urban race- They look so fun!
  23. Go on a hot air balloon ride- Um, I think I envisioned this as something romantic I would do, but since I am currently single, I would rather...
    Replacement: Go see Britney in Vegas in August with my besties!
  24. Start my own business- Boom!

  25. Go white water rafting- Again, I want to do this, but I won't be upset if it doesn't happen before 30.
    Replacement: Spend a day at my favorite spot in Payson.
     I haven't gone in 4 years.  It;s time I make a return!
  26. Learn another language- I had originally intended for this to be Spanish or French, but 've been learning web codeing and I think that counts.  
  27. Live near the beach- Been there, done that!
  28. Make something old new again- Probably some furniture for the new place.  
  29. Write a book- I have started probably 20 different books over the last 15 years, but none have ever gotten finished. I really want to finish one and submit it for publishing.
  30. Hike the Grand Canyon- This just doesn't sound that appealing anymore.
    Replacement: Go camping.  I've never really been camping.  I like the idea of it, but I have never done it.  
Well, it took me two years to cross of 6 things, only 24 to go in the next 15 months!  Eeekk!  I gotta go, I have things to cross off my list!