The Empath & Darkness

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” – Mary Oliver

I’m an empath. Through and through. It kind of sucks some days. I feel drained or weak. Hell. I am weak. I’m just human. 

When your heart and your head nearly never agree…is it possible to ever really know who you are? I hear people say that- “I know who I am”. But what the hell does that even mean? I’m 32 and I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. 

And that whole “empath” thing? Well, some times that makes it hard to sort through the feels to find where I stand. 

My heart gives in and fails me so many times. I take risks and invest only to fail and make mistakes. I’m blinded by my heart in that moment. 

I’ve hurt people and lost myself so many times. 

I don’t know if that makes me a horrible person or not but I can say I wouldn’t change it. And I guess that’s really who I am. This ever evolving and changing person. Impulsive and feeling, scatter-brained and anxious, awkward and silly. All of the above and changing every day. 

I used to think mistakes indicated I needed to change something (some times it does) but other times I needed to mess up that badly in order to really see clearly. I needed to get that lost to find myself. So that’s me, guys. Ashley the mess 🙂 

On this journey in a new place, what I do know is that I’m grateful for fresh starts and the grace to try again. 

I can feel my season of sadness and grieving coming to an end. As an Alabama spring chips away at my heart and new connections begin to blossom. 

And I will be honest, a small part of me doesn’t want to completely let it go- still resentful for the change and the people my heart longs for (even if I chose it). But more of me is giving myself over to the experience. 

I had worried I forgot how to cry, and then my best friend showed up at my doorstep to spend a week loving on me. 

I was worried I wouldn’t have friends, but some how I keep getting invited to have coffee and play dates. 

I was worried my business wouldn’t take off, but my schedule is so full I can hardly take on more. 

I was worried for my children, but they are growing and happy and making progress. 

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I mostly mess things up. But I’m not in search of sanctity, sacredness, purity; these things are found after this life, not in this life; but in this life I search to be completely human: to feel, to give, to take, to laugh, to get lost, to be found, to dance, to love and to lust, to be so human.

Hello, 32. Hello, spring. Hello, Alabama. I think I may be ready for you. 

Wyatt Turns Three


Wyatt’s birthday was the first one to be celebrated in Alabama. It was an odd feeling…not our normal Newman party. But we had some company, and we played, and Wyatt was happy. That is really what matters. As we continue to build community here, make connections and build our world here, I imagine we will have many more parties that feel like home in the future.
Lacie brought her babies and a dino-themed craft (cause she’s the bomb like that!). We had cake and we enjoyed the weather.

Wyatt, you are our lucky little dude. You surprised us but we can’t imagine life without you. From your curious nature, to your all-boy attitude, you round out and perfect our family. I want to take in these moments and savor them. Your long curly hair, your sweet toes, the way you still some times smell like a baby, the small lisp in your speech and the way you snuggle. You love all things spooky, and all things loud and dinosaurs. You a have an incredible imagination and you genuinely love.
Happy third birthday, my sweetness. We sure do love you.

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Newman Update

I think I have three different draft blog posts going. I can’t seem to gather my thoughts together and each one is more emotional than the next. Not in a negative way; blogging is very therapeutic for me. But I can’t seem to corral the jumbled thoughts.
In light of my inability to sort through my feelings, I figured I would just share some basics about where we are with the kids and their health/education.

He’s my little puzzle still. I think he finally feels happy and settled at school. He has friends and consistency. Things work differently in Alabama than they did in Texas, so I have been adjusting to therapy offerings and IEP expectations. Currently, Eli is getting OT, PT and SLP through the school. He’s also getting outpatient PT and SLP. I feel like he could benefit from a more consistent therapy schedule in school, and the paperwork to review or look into anything takes forever.  They are looking to add assistive technology to his IEP, as he’s decidedly non verbal at this point. (Though just this past weekend, he said “mama” to get my attention multiple times!! It’s been 7 months since I’ve heard his sweet voice!). We meet with his team soon to talk about kinder (I KNOW!) and what his needs are going forward.
We are also stating the process of an ASD eval. Both public and private, so we can get a better picture of what is going on. He’s completely stopped attempts at words, and his teacher agrees with me that there are days he seems “on” and engaged, and others where he’s not with us. I’ve noted this before but it’s hard to determine what comes with Down syndrome and what’s atypical. At this stage, I see so many friends who have children Eli’s age (with DS) and I just know Eli is different.

He stims, constantly hums, is anti social (though loving), and at times acts as if he cannot hear (though he can, perfectly, and doesn’t require new ear tubes!). Some other concerns are his loss of speech, reactions to large crowds or unfamiliar places, picky eating, and some sensory aversions as well as gut issues.
While we aren’t sold on “ASD”, it’s a place to start. Other possible answers are sensory processing disorder and speech apraxia. None of it really matters other than to be able to help Eli better and understand him more. It’s a lot to dive into, and most of this is going to take all year before we have answers. Right now we are going to work on limiting screen time and making sure his supplements match what his body needs.

Otherwise, Eli is doing really well. He’s a bright kiddo and we are so proud of him. His hugs are still out of this world amazing and if you’re close to him, you get to experience his awesomeness first-hand.

Goodness gracious it’s been busy for her. We got Ruby evaluated after Eli started school. Her behaviors, anxiety and general frustration had all of us very worried. She qualified for services and started a program that works with her one day a week. While she attended school, we got more evals set up through the school and university. We are waiting for the results now, but it did soothe me to be able to talk to a specialist and have some validated. My heart is so heavy and worried for her- she’s so smart and really a wonderful sweet girl…I just don’t know what to do next.
School has been a huge positive for her and she’s making gains in social aspects and emotional areas we haven’t seen before. She will begin school in the fall full-time, at the same school Eli goes to.
I still worry and I hope we can piece together something that will help her. My concern at this point is how I handle it all- I have to be honest and say that I’m worn down. I’m completely spent and emotionally bankrupt. Her extreme behaviors have just drained me and my soul is tired and weary for her. It’s been three years of trying to figure my girl out, and I know she is just as tired.

Praying for answers in the weeks ahead for my sweet girl. In the mean time, she’s been on an upward trend in the last week or so, and the sweet snuggles and smiles make my heart happy. We recently did some mommy and me pictures, and I was rewarded with the most cuddles in the history of ever. We needed that win.

This kid is a nut. A nut who will be three this Friday! It really does go by so fast…everyone warned me, but my last baby isn’t a baby anymore. My sweet Samson.
I worry for him because of all the things listed above. But he doesn’t know any different. I some times get upset and worry he will resent or feel overwhelmed by all of this. It’s a silly worry, because he’s just a typical dino-loving three year old who loves his family. He’s almost got potty training down, he’s a real ham and loves to make people laugh. Fart jokes are of special interest these days. He will be going to pre school in the fall and couldn’t be more excited about it! This kid has wanted to go to school for years, and with the other two going full-time next year, it felt like the right move.
Look for a birthday update soon 😉

I think that is about it for now. I have stayed super busy with work, pouring what’s left into all of that. And just managing the house and kids. I feel more settled than I thought I would, so that feels good. There is still a longing…a pull in my heart. But for now, I’m working to just enjoy this season and my babies.
Thanks for checking in on us!