It’s time for the weekend…

Hope you have the BEST next 48 hours yet. I’ll be back to Atlanta on Monday, so in the meantime I am going to soak up every last second here in the PNW. Today through Sunday, we’re off to explore the Oregon Coast!

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Present Moment, Only Moment.

Being a present-moment kind of girl has never been one of my strengths.

On the positive side of things, I’m an ambitious, achievement-focused kind of person.

On the negative, I worry a lot about things that don’t need to clog up today.

Sometimes this means you’ll catch see me gazing out the window on car drives, ignoring my car mates, miles away from where I’m actually at — stewing on what should happen in the next three years.

Other times, that means sitting at Andy’s dining room table in beautiful Oregon, worrying about what next Tuesday will be like when I’m back home in Atlanta.

Both are unnecessary.

Am I right?!

Today is point A and I’m always battling the desire to know about point C. What about what’s after the next thing?

I’ll be honest though; while it’s helped me accomplish a lot, that phrase about “depressed people are living in the past and anxious people living in the future?” I’ve had my fair dealings with anxiety.

A great accomplishment over the past two years has been that — I’ve let a lot go. I’ve found balance in being in the moment and anticipating what comes next.

And a lot of that came from realizing how little control you can have in life. Realizing that sometimes the best things are unplanned.

For me that’s meant finding a new everyday life rhythm.

I’m content in my job and while I want to grow and move up the chain; my todays are focused on doing my tasks better than yesterday; learning something new every opportunity and finding ways to set myself apart.

In my personal life I’ve found a lot of peace in strengthening my faith. i don’t control the overall tide of life myself; but I can trust in the one who does. And I can have good faith that if I’m focused on today; tomorrow is going to come together.

How many times have I written about this? A lot.

The reason I write about it today is because one of the best ways to STOP worrying about the future is to acknowledge your worry. Realize that it’s pointless. Find the motivation of what’s REALLY getting to you. Make a plan, if you can, for how to absolve that. And then redirect your focus positively in the moment. 

And sometimes writing about it is the best way.

Being in a long-distance relationship has affected my ability to not worry about the future in polar opposite ways.

When Andy and I are together, it’s almost paralyzing how much I want to worry about fixing this long-distance 3,000 mile issue immediately. Then in other ways, it’s so much more complicated than a quick fix — that I realize i only need to focus on the way his hair smells. What his shirt feels like when I hug him. How nice it is to go to the store together. The crunch of his steps next to mine when we take a hike. How the intonation of his voice changes at different times of day. Or how when he gets really sleepy he starts twitching. Those are nice things people who see each other everyday appreciate also; but for us when we’re together–they’re intensely meaningful.

This time last year when I visited Seattle for the first time and Andy and I were embarking on our first stint apart; I experienced for the first time “present worry.” I was in the moment — experiencing Seattle and precious time with him. But I was worrying about when the present would end. Worrying about having to get on a plane and say “see you later.”

We had brought burritos up to his favorite park in Queen Anne to look out at the Space Needle and under the bench we shared was a simple plaque that said:

“Present Moment, Only Moment.”

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Maybe to you, it’s kind of a “duh.”

But in THAT moment. I thought “I’m such an idiot. I need to just look around. I need to just give him a hug. I need to just be here.”

Ever since Andy and I saw that plaque it’s been a way of living when we have these stolen days together.

It’s a mantra when I get sad thinking about missing him–and he’s sitting next to me. It’s a meditation when I’m tempted to daydream about the “what ifs.”

As a result of HAVING to stay in the moment I’ve come up with my own list of ways to control yourself when you get all worked up about controlling life:

  • Take in the five senses of right this second. What do I smell? How does that fabric feel? Have I ever seen the light fall like that? Isolate the sounds floating through the room.
  • Keep my phone tucked away as much as possible.
  • Abolish a schedule and instead focus on overall task priorities for the day.
  • Actively acknowledge a desire to think about the future or worry // and deny it. “No, we’re right here right now.”
  • Start your day with a prayer. Give away those worries at the start so that your day can stay clean. (This is my favorite.)
  • Create conversations. Mull over the best questions. Put your heart into it.
  • Distract yourself with something new happening TODAY. See something for the first time. Find a new route to take. Try a fresh recipe. Stop by that bar that always catches your eye.

Travel Advice: Wandering the PNW.

I don’t mind dirty fingernails, damp mornings, coffee in a tin cup and salty cheeks.

Sometimes my favorite noise in the quiet crunch of a wooded pathway.

I love finding new ways of seeing light through trees, leaves and moss.

Therefore, days spent exploring nooks and crannies of the Pacific Northwest are some of my favorite.

Two years ago I dreamed of visiting Seattle and Portland for the first time.

Funny how I said a lot of prayers about new adventures, opportunities to see new places and someone to love–and God handed over a woodsy city boy from Washington state.

This week marks my FOURTH trip to the PNW over the course of the last year.

In the funny rhythms of life, last Wednesday when I touched down in Portland it was also one year to the day since I first touched down in Seattle. August is a good time to visit the Northwest.

In the midst of seeing Andy’s new life in Portland, I’ve also already trekked back up to Seattle this past weekend, and am looking forward to next weekend on the Oregon Coast.

While I don’t have pictures QUITE ready to share. I do have some tips that I have learned over the past year if you’re planning a trip to the PNW any time soon (but honestly, I think these tips can go for any travel adventure):

  1. Do not pack an umbrella. The locals will laugh at you. Opt for that lightweight North Face parka instead.
  2. Do bring a lot of layers because it’s not rare to have a week where there are 90-degree days followed by 60-degree ones.
  3. Go see the tourist spots; but don’t make them your die-by priorities. That always gives you a reason to come back.
  4. Wander into neighborhoods you’ve never heard of fearlessly. Odds are that you’re going to find something you’ve never known you were looking for–and it makes for a way better story when you get back anyway. Hello, we’re explorers here — not just visitors.
  5. Take notes of the places that you visit. That wine bar that had the BEST view? Write it down. You’ll want to remember one day and there’s no guarantee that you won’t forget to take the receipt out of your pants pocket before those babies go through the spin cycle.
  6. Find a good camera. Yes, our iphones are a gift to on-the-fly photography. But you paid a good buck to be here. Take photos worth putting in an album. 
  7. Ask a stranger to take your photo. I know that sounds weird. But your kids don’t want to see all your selfies one day. They may however like to see a nice photo taken of you in a scenic or historic place — where you can actually see you + the background in good proportion.
  8. Don’t eat out for every meal. Not only do you feel like a whale by the end of your trip; but you maybe miss some of the nice al fresco parts of the city you’re in. For example, find a farmers market — get something local. If you don’t have a kitchen accessible, eat something that doesn’t require cooking. Picnics are a fun excuse and if you don’t want to cook or make your own; find a good local grocery store that likely sells pre-made food. You’re doing your stomach, wallet and overall experience all favors.
  9. Read the fliers on light poles. Not every evening of your trip may be jam-packed (and honestly, even if you love itineraries like me — try to avoid it — I PROMISE you that you will still have fun and not waste time) and for those evenings you have more time; what better way to spend it than to walk down the street to the Viking Boat Festival you had never heard of? Or maybe that adjacent neighborhood is having free family movie night down by the Willamette River. Find experiences you wouldn’t otherwise plan.
  10. Prepare yourself to want to return. You’re never going to get to do everything you want. All of the hikes, wineries, breweries, festivals, shows, attractions, ‘hoods. You’re never going to do it all in your trip like you plan. So instead, just plan for this to be your FIRST trip. Do and see as much as you can; but don’t make your itinerary make you miss an experience in the place you’re at. Stay longer if you need to at a restaurant. Wander further down a road. Add an extra stop on your hike. And then just find a way to return later. Because, let’s face it. When you visit, you’re going to fall in love anyway.

No matter where you’re going, when or why–take a deep breath–and if you’re just BEING. Odds are, you’re doing it right.

That’s what vacation is all about!

I can’t wait to show and share the most MAGICAL hike I’ve ever taken later this week. (Thank you, Oregon.)

But before that, I need to go find some Portland tacos….

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What’s your “puppy” to de-stressing?

When I’ve had a stressful day at work where perhaps I called up video of Syria instead of Iraq (seriously a big problem), or I’ve cut off a reporter too short — or missed a good opportunity to pitch a story; on those days I like to come home, light some apple-scented candles and turn on some Sinatra.

I’ll sit in the quiet and try to melt away the parts of the day that I wished were more perfect.

Maybe I’ll splash some wine in a glass or grab whatever the latest cider or beer is in the door of the fridge.

And then I veg.

It is THE BEST.

On pretty days, I crack the door and take it to the porch.

Before you know it I’ve dialed my Mom on the phone, we’ve talked 45 minutes, and all of the stresses of the day are somewhere else.

While this really is a form of perfection to me–I have a dream of adding a fuzzy something to that equation.

Back when my family had a dachshund there was absolutely nothing like cuddling up in the recliner, dog curled at your side, breathing steadily, looking at you with those doe eyes—and there was no way to stay tense. She would lick your hand in comfort, push her nose up under your elbow, and wiggle down deep into the crevices to get as close to you as possible.

You can take away the Sinatra, fresh air, candles and wine — a dachshund does all of that relaxing for you and more all by itself.

While, a dachshund lover like myself may think that they’re THE BEST, I know that pretty much any dog can have this effect.

It just has to be yours.

Sadly my schedule and personal budget right now aren’t conducive to a furry friend BUT that doesn’t stop me from daydreaming.

In those quiet moments reflecting on what life would be like with a dog–one of my favorite thoughts is what to name it.

I find dogs with absurdly human names incredibly adorable and hilarious.

Thus, my list of possible dog names includes:

  • Kevin
  • Keith
  • Franklin

I need to work on girl options. Related, I’m having trouble getting anyone on board with Keith.

So, you can tell I have work to do before I add a dog to my life.

But in the important things of being excited about eventually segueing into the adulthood of pet ownership; I’m totally ready.

One day. Hopefully one day soon.

in the meantime, what’s a girl to do?

Follow Harlow & Sage on Instagram. Yeah, do that right this second.

Instagram / Harlow and Sage

Instagram / Harlow and Sage

It will get you by while you don’t have a dog. Or it’ll get you by sweeter even if you do.

xx.

We call this my “drama tiara.”

I can’t help that I was born with a type-A personality.

Symptoms include overactive planning, over-thinking small details and needing to feel entirely in control at all times.

Sometimes, when the planning is going wrong, I have no control and the small details are overwhelming—my feelings decide to take the reigns.

And I put on my “drama tiara.” Aptly named by either my mother or bff Katie. I can’t remember.

Amen.

I get extremely worked up and everything is just, for lack of a better phrase, well…it’s all going to hell!

Then the second phase of this 3-year-old-style meltdown begins–which is the inability to move on. I have to dwell and sulk and freak out until something magical happens that neither I nor anyone else can forecast that alleviates my anxieties.

I’m, admittedly, kind of a nut job.

This is what I really need to be telling myself…

Over the past year it’s been too easy for me to get into these funks and forget that the thing that makes me feel better is pretty simple.

It’s Jesus.

This past week I’ve been constantly working on finishing SIX final packages for my internship. (Y’all that’s like 60 hours of work, likely.) Not to mention I’ve been working on that whilst saying goodbye to Andy as he moved away from Boston (just goodbye for a week—but in my full drama, I’m acting like it’s goodbye forever) and also packing up my first Boston apartment.

Somebody get me a piece of pie or something.

It’s just moments like tonight on a Saturday night feeling sorry for myself and looking at my to-do list and the empty spot next to me on the couch that I kind of have to pinch myself. And remind myself that I control my feelings — they don’t control me.

So, y’all — maybe some prayers over the next week while I get my life re-situated!?

In the meantime, I’m hanging out on the REVO Church Podcast page. Feel free to join me, :).

^^ That.

Imma be a Navy SEAL. Or something like that.

This post brought to you by the new VS bathing suit I ordered yesterday……And a desire to conquer looking good in it….

#INeedATan. Stat.

#INeedATan. Stat.

Cliff notes for those out of the loop: Ashley loves to run. Ashley’s leg(s) are fractured. Ashley can’t run right now. Ashley’s being creative at how she can stay active and not turn into a walrus.

This week was not the best.

My parents are coming next week! (!!!!!! I haven’t seen them in six months. This is exciting.) So that’s meant some serious advance working on other deadlines. It’s been coming together, but suffice to say that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week you might as well have called me Murphy.

Cause I was living Murphy’s Law.

EVERYTHING was going wrong. The worst. I haven’t had stress quite like that in a while.

When things go wrong, what does Ashley typically do to feel better?

Run.

Since that wasn’t an option, I was really blessed to have my rooms Sarah invite me to her Pilates class. She’s invited me a couple of times, but I had resisted because:
a) I thought my school gym pass was better than I have now learned that it is (no classes, what!?)

     b) I was intimidated to try something new

     c) I thought I liked other exercises more.

But let’s face it. “Man that ride on the gym bike just made me feel SO MUCH better,” was said by no one ever.

So Tuesday I squished myself into some Pilates clothes and went to what I thought was going to be mostly a mat workout.

That turned into actually being THIS:

That’s not me. I think my butt maybe got 1/4 of that high during this move.

I have officially been to my first Pilates TRX class.

Let’s just say “Whoa.”

I have never in my life sweat so much from staying in a 2-foot radius. It was pretty crazy. Actually, scratch that. Insanity made me sweat riiiiiidiculously. This was working on par with that though.

The focus on breathing and my muscles was exactly what I needed to stop thinking about everything else that was stressing me out. Not to mention that the way I felt the next day told me that it was a good workout. (My armpits were sore? I don’t know how that happens.)

When you Google TRX you get:

UM. It's serious.

UM. It’s serious.

I alternated between thoughts of:

– If this strap breaks, I’m breaking my face.

– It’s impossible to do this as gracefully as the teacher.

– I wonder if anyone notices I’m doing half of the sets?

– Thank goodness I squished myself into tighter clothes. Otherwise this would be a show in here.

– How in the world is that tiny girl on the other side of the room so good at this?! I don’t see muscles.

It was very hard. And a lot of fun. And now I’ve found another way to spend money and think I’m going to sign up for a month of classes.

I think it may be the just right thing to get me through this injury funk. Not to mention, there are regular pilates and yoga classes at this same studio that I can take advantage of.

Have any of you tried TRX? Anyone in Boston interested in signing up and going with me? It’s only $30 for unlimited classes for 30 days! I’m thinking about signing up at the start of July to get the most bang out of visits given I’ll be out of town a lot next week.

“Lucky?” He said. “Oh no, we’ve been a lot of work.”

One of my favorite parts of being a reporter carrying around a television camera is that some people are very inclined to talk to you. It’s not necessarily that they want to be on TV. I think maybe they just see me and recognize that I’m going to appreciate hearing their story. Last weekend I was covering a community event and an elderly gentleman walked up to me.

“Guess what,” he said.

I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me, so I kind of stared for a second.

He repeated himself, “Guess what.”

“What’s that?” I obliged while smiling and thinking he looked like he was probably in his upper-80s––no telling what he was maybe going to tell me.

He lit up in a smile and said “June 13th. June 13th will be mine and my wife’s 60th wedding anniversary.”

How do you not smile back to that? I immediately offered my congratulations. And a couple of “wow”s. And I perhaps unwittingly said “You two are so lucky!”

“Lucky?” he said. “Oh no, we’ve been a lot of work.”

I had to ask the question you’re crazy to not ask:

“So, what’s your secret?”

Charlie gave me three bits of advice:

1) It’s all about the communication. You have to be able to talk to each other all the time about every thing. Even when you don’t want to. You should always want to.

2) None of those, she goes with the girls all the time, he goes with the boys all the time. Take a trip together every year. You need adventures together.

3) Spirituality is important. Your hearts need to be on the same page.

Sixty years of experience. And I cherished every bit he had to share.

His advice harkened to this study recently posted on The Atlantic called “Masters of Love.” It’s a fascinating study highlighting how kindness, in the ways you don’t think about, is very important for a relationship’s success.

“There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.”

The kindness “Masters of Love” talks about and the kind of communication Charlie talks about, they’re both forms of work you put into a relationship. They’re the parts of a relationship that come easy in the first three months. And the parts of a relationship that become the choice to love someone later on.

It’s not always easy.

And it’s not luck.

And it’s what separates the 60-year relationships from the rest.

That’s what makes love so special.

On this Monday, cherish love a bit. What happier a way to start the week? Especially if you’re somewhere in the earlier days of your own 60 years.

Do you have any “relationship rules” with your significant other?

PS: Happy Belated Anniversary Charlie!

To the genetics behind my Boston adventure.

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So, this is Mr. Davis.

He is my dad. And a teacher. And a scientist. And a smartie pants. And an intellectual. And a social butterfly. And an adventurer. And a traveler. And a goof. And a talker. And a stabilizer. And a cooker. And a supporter.

He’s so many things.

And because of him, I’m a smartie pants. I’m an intellectual. A social butterfly. An adventurer. A traveler. A goof. A talker.

So many great things about me started with him. I just so happened to take the right chromosomes.

When I think about my huge life-changer of a decision to move to Boston and try something new; I know that there’s some part of him in me that’s letting me go on an adventure for both of us.

Thanks for showing me what love and strength, responsibility and dedication are like, Dad.

And thanks for part of that loving and supporting being directed right at me.

Happy Father’s Day to all the daddies!!

From My Lobster Sammie to My Boat Shoes. #CapeCodder

There have been so many  wonderful and fun adventures this spring but I haven’t been able to blog about them. Mostly because I’ve been lazy—sigh—but, I now right the ship.

One of the best parts about this beautiful time I have in Boston is that I’m learning so much about a new city––but also a new region. I moved to Boston in September being the hugest New England nube. I had no idea what was good about Rhode Island, nor did I have a consistent idea of which was west and which was east – Vermont or New Hampshire? (They look alike, cut me some slack.)

Having my car here over the last six months has opened up a whole new radius for me.

Most recently traipsing all over Cape Cod with Andy and his mom.

There had been a huge build up to May since….well, since I met Andy. (For me, May has meant graduation and Andy moving away from Boston. BUT. That’s not happened yet. Well the moving part. So we won’t talk about that for now. I’m using avoidance as a coping mechanism very effectively 🙂 )

May came.

And with it a graduation.

And finally meeting Andy’s mom and brothers.

It was the best. Such the best. And such a happiness that I immediately felt like I had known them for a long time.

Graduation was a wonderful send-off of celebrating some of my best new friends.

Credit to Ms. J-Radz. Most of the people in this photo….They’re what’s made Boston “home.”

Of course, most of my time revolved around being with this guy and his family. It was – I’ll say it again – the best.

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We have some awkward photos in our relationship. There’s a strange part of me that likes this photo though. I look proud.

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Don’t mind my mound of crap in the background. I was a working girl that day doing interviews!

Did I mention that he was also the speaker at the graduation ceremony? Proud girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In that wave of bonding, I tagged along on a week-long road trip all along Cape Cod and into Rhode Island with Andy and his mama. We left on the road trip pretty much immediately after graduation had settled down.

And I have to say. Y’all, I pull off New England OK.

Lobstah Sandwich? Check. Clam Chowdah? Check. Boat Shoes? Check, check.

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Our first stop on the Cape was South Yarmouth. It was lovely. We stayed at the Red Jacket Resort and our view was aahhhmazing. It was so nice we went with the intention of staying one night and ended up there for three. Totally recommend.

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While it was a little too breezy for what I would call “beach time,” it was still really nice to just be barefoot in the sand. Jacket or not. What shocked me though was how clear and green the water is up here. Maybe it’s because it’s so cold…

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Glare warning. You would NEVER believe that I’m vaguely capable of a tan these days. Curses NE weather!

One of those days we channeled our inner “Wings” and went to Nantucket for the day. It involved three hours on a ferry, biking around this tiny island, finding a secluded beach where I FINALLY saw a seal (I’ve been on the look out for months) and it was DEAD. Smelly, gross, leathery, dead. Disgusting. But the rest of Nantucket was so great. Very quiet, peaceful and as New England as you could imagine.

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Andy takes a lot of naps. This is a lifestyle choice we don’t see eye-to-eye on. “WAKE UP! Let’s look at the water together.”

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We did sequence shots of Andy jumping down the cliff into the water forever. This one was the funniest. He looks so happy. HOORAY BEACH.

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So we settled on a selfie.

As we wrapped up our time in Cape Cod, we made a mecca to the homeland of potato chips. We got less free samples than my potato-chip loving heart would have preferred–but it was still a fun, free stop along the way.

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Then it was off to Newport, RI, the mansions and the cliffs. Newport is so beautiful and unique along the coastline (at least to me). If you ever want a weekend getaway that’s cozy and romantic, or cozy and fun—try that. Lots of old stuff. Fun things to see. Good restaurants and bars. And when it’s warmer there are good beaches, as well.

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Surreal that someone lived in these places.

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Not suitable for sandals. I about fell to my death a few times.

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Haha, hence I took this photo thinking it was funny how terrified I actually was. I kept thinking of some book I read in elementary school where a girl falls to her death off of cliffs. Scary.

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Mansions. These have to be haunted. But totally less scary.

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This is Rose Hill … or Rose Cliff…Andy always has to tell me the right one. Regardless, it’s where the original Great Gatsby was filmed, as well as some of 27 Dresses, True Lies and….another movie I hadn’t seen. It was gorgeous and so incredibly Art Deco.

We toured four mansions over two days. It was fun and interesting. The history nerd in me was in heaven wandering around listening to the audio. I have to say though, living so close to the Biltmore House growing up has spoiled me. I was rather unimpressed by some of the sizes haha but then had to realize that to these aristocrats these homes were just “summer cottages.” Crazy.

We stayed in an airbnb in Newport that Andy swore was haunted. It was pretty scary one night — but mostly because I think we had been watching too much “American Horror Story.”

When it was time to go back to Boston it was bittersweet having to leave and take on the oncoming summer busy-ness. But it was also a welcome to be back in my own bed.

What a wonderful opportunity to spend so much time with Andy and his mom. When you have bi-coastal families that’s just such a rarity. Who would’ve ever thought I’d date someone from the other corner of the States and have to even think about such things?

All I can say is, when I left North Carolina I knew that my world was bigger.

Boston added to that.

Going to the Cape. Gallivanting New England adds to that.

But also, having Andy does too.

My world is a LOT bigger than it was a year ago.

So, do you want to go to Cape Cod? I’m full of places that I’VE liked. What about you? I’m very open to New-England-like weekend, day and long-weekend trips. Pearl the Mazda is ready for a trip — just give me a suggestion where to go next!

Wanted: A Wolfpack

Every time I take the Meyers-Briggs test the most skewed personality trait is the extroversion part. I have a knack for finding a familiar face where ever I go. And I’ve been known for either collecting friends? Or having enough that I deem my “friend quota is full.”

I’m the worst.

But it’s just because I love being around people and feeding off of the energy of interaction.

Since I moved to Boston though, it’s been a little tough to replicate my (AMAZING) North Carolina crew. Three very, very best guy friends? Girl friends who had gone through every crush, relationship, conquering and failure with you? Well that’s impossible.

Part of it is my fault. I went and got an awesome boyfriend who I wanted to spend every waking second with. And I moved in with a built-in friend from home who is my female saving-grace here in Boston. They have made it less of an investment to try to make connections with other people. (Sorry, Andy and Sarah – Looks like I’m throwing you under the bus.)

Part of it is seemingly Boston’s fault. I haven’t quite had a person cross my path, like Bridget Weber (Lynch ha), who I instantly knew I would be best friends forever with.

Maybe I’m not immersing myself in the right groups.

Or maybe I’m bitter because I did have the great fortune to make some amazing friends who have sadly now all graduated and moved away.

But regardless.

I need a Boston rew to carry me through the end/eventual move!

So web friends, give me some advice. What should I do to meet more people? So far this summer I work pretty much alone at my internship — so no opportunities there. Are meet-up groups odd or acceptable in the city?

Also, keep in mind I don’t have a ton of funds to join a lot of sports teams, etc. because that’s a typical way I’d be putting myself out there.

For now, this Sunday morning, I’m off to church….