2.

Who am I?

I am a stay-at-home-mom who dislikes the term “stay-at-home-mom,” but I have yet to come up with a new one. My husband and I have been married for 12 years (almost 13). We have three children: two preteen daughters ages 10 and 12, and a baby boy age three. This year we adopted a black stray cat. Her name is April because the shelter found her in April. When we met with her at the animal shelter in the small visiting area, our son was instantly enamored with her, as we all were, and he kept repeating her name, “April. April.” And that name sunk into our hearts.

The six of us live in a small condo in Southern California where the wildfires roar as well as the roller coasters in our backyard (Six Flags Magic Mountain). I lived in this town most of my life. I used to visit my great great grandfather in a local convalescent home where I would tap dance for him to make him smile. My great grandmother and grandfather are buried in the cemetery here on top of the hill under a tree. Any time I find myself coming down the 14 freeway south headed home, I can see their tree. My grandmother and great aunt went to the same high school as I did. My family has been here for generations. Sometimes I feel stuck here. Stuck because I’m afraid to try something new, and I fear uprooting my babies and replanting them somewhere else. This is where our family tree began, and it will always be our home.

I write almost daily, currently in a Wizard of Oz themed journal given to me by one of my sweet neighbors. I also read almost daily. I love to read Children’s Lit, YA, Literary Fiction, Memoirs, Spirituality & Self-Help. When I’m not reading or writing, I am cleaning, organizing, decluttering and thinking of ways to simplify my life. I am also constantly thinking of ways to keep my three year old son, Abraham, entertained, engaged, and connecting with me. Last night we played restaurant. Abe stood on a stool at the bar behind the kitchen sink. I stood in the kitchen. Abe handed me a round silver lid to one of my candle holders and told me to make a pizza. I threw the lid up in the air like pizza dough and then I pretended to put it in the oven. I tried to do an funny Italian accent. My husband, Mark, walked by and asked, “Do they make pizza in Russia?” We both laughed because every time I try to do an accent, he says it sounds Russian. I did take that DNA test from Ancestry.com and a small percentage of Finland/Russia popped up which surprised me. So maybe that explains it.

Yesterday, not only did I make a delicious pizza out of a candle lid, I also went on my third run/jog/walk of the week. I am working on becoming a stronger runner because my family runs. Mark ran a half-marathon last year and runs regularly on his own or with our daughters. They run long distance and cross-country. I have felt so inspired by them. and I keep reminding myself to go the distance and have the heart of a distance runner. I am in awe of the mental and spiritual strength it takes to be a distance runner. I am so proud of our children and my husband and their ability to endure. I want to be more like them. I want to run with them and strengthen my mind and willpower, which I know will benefit me in all aspects of my life.

Anyway, this is just a snippet of who I am. If John Green has taught me anything this year (I’ve read three of his books this year: Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns & An Abundance of Katherines) it’s that you can never truly know the entirety of a person. There are so many layers between us:

“…and for a few moments, it was just the three of us […] – the three who knew what had happened and too many layers between all of us, too much keeping us from one another.”

p.152 Looking for Alaska.

But we can still try to strengthen our relationships and peel back some layers to feel closer and more connected. Which is another thing I’m working on: opening up, connecting more with others, and accepting the multitude of layers.

Until next time…

Ashley

1.

Why am I here?

I am here to write. Does it have to be something more? Something extraordinary? Or can it be as simple as, words on a page? Putting words on a page feels good to me. It feels like swimming through water, running with the wind, dancing to music, chopping vegetables for a soup, or driving with or without a destination. It feels like organizing, sifting through things, and discovering what brings me joy or what is wasting space. Writing feels productive. It feels like movement, like connecting the dots to discover what the dots represent. Writing is a way of moving through the world.

And there are times when I enjoy the journey more than the arrival. I like to be en route. I like the middle, the in between, the part after the beginning and before the end. Although, in writing, this is the hardest part because this space feels timeless. It feels infinite. There’s always room for more: more to discover and explore, more to learn, more to refine, more changes to make before reaching the final destination. And, how it is oh-so-easy to get lost here and forget where you were going or why you set out on this endeavor in the first place.

But when you write it all down, you have it all there: a map of your own creation. It may be a mess, it may seem impossible to comprehend but it’s there, something tangible. You have proof: I was here.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m here because I’m here. And writing feels like life. The more I learn about life, the more I realize the most important feeling is the feeling of connection: connection to spirit, connection to humanity, connection to nature, connection to the universe, and connection to God/Source. And putting words on a page helps me feel connected.