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Unsteady


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I think I’ve been sad now for about a year. When I turned 30, I felt this fire in me. I felt a change coming and I embraced my new found confidence while finding myself after three kids.

Now, I feel like a burned woman…the fire has gone out completely and only ash and dust fill the air. My lungs burn as I try to breathe. My eyes well up with tears trying to see. Everything hurts.

The phrase “you flew too close to the sun and got burned” has echoed in my mind since then. It still stings.

Maybe I did. Or maybe I never really had the fire in the first place, it was only falsely fueled by a new perspective.

What I do know is that the new people I’m meeting don’t get to know that fiery girl. All they get is sad, burned girl. She’s maybe even a little angry too.
I’ve left so much behind and I know you all are sick of hearing it, but I’m just tired. I’m worn thin by all the responsibilities and I don’t have my tribe anymore to build me back up. It’s just me. My children and my business and my husband get all I have.
I am proud. I did it. I moved and I rebuilt.

But I thought it would be…more…

I thought I would feel more successful or more a part of this place.

When I’m working with new clients, when I’m planning for my business, when I’m editing photos, I can feel a small spark in my heart light up. I am in their story and it’s so real. The hope and love are tangible. I believe it and I’m part of this place for a moment. I think that’s why I am still doing my business. It’s so damn hard to put yourself out there, so it’s not because I like being that vulnerable. It’s because I want to believe in these stories and their happiness.
For a while there I wasn’t sure I was really doing it. Making it, that is. Like…just breathing. I don’t know how I was doing that. And I don’t even know what made me get out of bed most mornings. It physically hurt to do so- a pain deep in my bones that couldn’t be soothed no matter how much sleep I got.
I think you could all tell. The look of a person who is drowning. It’s painful to watch someone struggle like that.

But I kept smiling and reaching out and pouring into my new community.

Maybe I’m just a broken moody artist, but tonight I just want to let go. I want to gather up the pieces I’ve spread out since we moved here and run. They are my pieces and I want them back. My heart is too tender and tired to keep fighting. I’m not fiery, mature Ashley who can take what everyone is dishing out. I’m frail and easily injured. I feel like I’m running in circles yelling, “I’m here! Like me!”

Ha…that’s sad huh? Sad little girl. That same girl told her mother she was going to be a cool kid. As if it was that simple. But I really believed it. We were moving, and I was going to have all new friends, and new clothes and people would like me.

And I remember the hard lesson I learned from my immature declaration that year: your clothes and hoping to be liked by others won’t make it so. Those things don’t make you who you are and they won’t make people like or accept you anymore than the last school you attended.

I used to imagine we had all been assigned our group at birth. Like, how popular or unpopular we would be. My assignment was plastered to my forehead- a big neon sign that said “loser”.
Anyway. This isn’t some weird plea for friends or me throwing shade at anyone.

It’s just me thinking out loud. Sorting out where my heart is. Maybe even apologizing.
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Perhaps I’m expecting too much (I know, mom, I always have.) But the honest truth is I just can’t take rejection and broken promises/unfulfilled plans/fake interest/bad business anymore. My heart can’t. Yeah, I’m a grown-ass boss mom but I’m too tender right now. Rejection takes on a lot of forms and any time I taste something that is even remotely similar I want to pack up and run. I want to hide under a blanket and pretend this isn’t my life. That I don’t have to wake up and keep trying to fit in here.

It took me 17 years to build my tribe in Houston. Right now I fear I will be mourning that loss for at least that long…but also it leaves me where I started the day we moved here: how long until I have a tribe here?
For now, I will accept the small progress I’ve made but you must accept sad girl. She’s all I have right now and she will be the most true friend if you let her.

Tomorrow I will get up, put my make up and smile. Maybe I will pick red lipstick in hopes of adding some fire to my day. And most of you won’t know the difference so long as you don’t really look. But be kind, could you? Because I’m barely holding it together and there’s still a trail of ashes behind me.

She won’t be sad forever.

May the bridges I burn, light my way.

Christmas Home

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My husband is basically a scrooge when it comes to Christmas. He loathes the music. Hates hanging lights on the house. And gets irritated at all the Christmas joy. (I’ve been known to climb the roof pregnant just to hang lights and blast Christmas music in the car alone because I know how much he hates it).
This year I tried to get into the spirit of things early- I quietly snuck the tree out of the attic while everyone was in the backyard playing…a WEEK before Thanksgiving. I know I know…early. But I was feeling it. As I got it set up I looked and looked for the hook up to get the lights connected but couldn’t find it. I had hoped it would appear later but it never did. So the tree sat in the corner for a few weeks before we got to it today…
Barry was pleased of course.
We played the latest hits station in the background (see rap and the sort…) while the kids tore into the decorations and helped get the tree looking good.
It’s one of my favorite parts. This year the kids recognized all the character ornaments that my parents had given us. It was really sweet (or we watch too much tv). They took a huge role this year in selecting the ornaments and in throwing them all on the floor.

Eli wanted to hang the beads just so he could rip them out of the tree. Ruby kissed all the ornaments and spun in princess dress. Wyatt played with every dinosaur ornament he could find.
It was really a pretty perfect Sunday morning.
When it was all done I wanted to start a fire and sit on the couch to bask in what we had created. But we don’t have a couch yet. And today is when I admit that I really wanted to make my den “home”. Decorate it more and settle in. It feels good to write that.
So tonight we will make chili, chase babies and dream about all the ways we can make this place more our home. Despite Barry’s humbug attitude, I think the spirit of the season is alive and well in our home. I’m glad about it.

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Thanksgiving

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Fall hit hard in Alabama and really showed off for me It’s my understanding that this year’s color wasn’t as bold as it normally is (due to drought) but for this Texas girl, it sure was a treat. Real fall. 🙂
We had the chance to have more family come up and visit, and then we got to go over for 10 whole days back to Houston.
I had grand plans to take lots of pictures, but it just didn’t happen. I mean…I took lots of pictures but of other people’s families. lol

I’ve come to the conclusion that we will never feel that we have had enough time in Texas. Even if I had not worked, it would have felt short, or I would have wanted more. For anyone that knows me, I always have something going on. It’s just how I thrive and what I crave- relationships and people. It’s hard to get good, quality time with everyone when you live in a different state. We worked to focus on the kids, on honoring the commitments we did make, and on trying to just enjoy the time we had.
These are a few of the pictures we took while there 🙂 Some are with my camera and some with my phone.

While we drove home, I cried. A lot, actually. But as the terrain began to look more familiar, a sense of peace washed over me. It was the first time since moving here that I felt like “oh! we are close to home!”. I hesitate to even write that…but it’s true. We are building a home here and it’s starting to feel a little more like our space.
My heart longs for Texas but this finally feels good now too, and for that I am thankful.
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These photos are a special treat! My awesome friend Terri Lane took them and I am so grateful for the way she captured my babies. I have said this before, but I will say it again: all photographers should regularly have their families photographed. It helps with the process and you gain an appreciation for the craft of others. Thank you for doing such an amazing job- these images are priceless and I am so lucky to have them!!
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