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.

“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!

Still alive. Still very alive.

I was sitting in the kitchen last night when my mom asked “Ashley, did you post on your blog today?”

After answering with a “No,” I got the cringing response; “You know it’s been a month, right?”

Oye, nothing like your mom calling you out for being distracted.

Something about being a graduate student in November and December? It’s busy. And not in all of the typical expected ways.

Of course there are the “finals,” which in my case were all final projects. Final packages to film and edit, papers to write and scripts to finish. I had to turn in some final research (eek, which I still need to do). There were students from my TA class with a lot of questions and there were some very busy end-of-semester projects for my graduate assistantship.

That’s all expected and a good excuse, right?

The other intangible part was that there were holidays to prepare for; a month-long trip home to pack and anticipate––and a lot of graduating that called for celebrations.

I remember so vividly early September. Not only did December seem far away, it still seemed imminent. There was an intimidating “older” girl in one of my classes who was set to graduate at the end of the semester. We always ended up sitting next to each other in our class. She seemed nice; but like she knew what she was doing. And since she had already been in Boston a year, I figured she already had friends and she wouldn’t take too much notice of me.

In some ways that made me grateful because she wouldn’t be looking over my shoulder at my mess of an edit job.

Somehow one day I decided to tell her about November Project though. She looked like she appreciated being active and working out. And that’s all it took.

She wanted to come! And it turned out that we had a lot to talk about. Enough so that she invited me to meet her at a birthday party that weekend.

Hmm. Even though Jeanna was 23 (younger than me!); she was getting ready to graduate. And in a REALLY weird way I felt like I was back in high school and an older girl was inviting me to a party––and oh, I felt special.

But I didn’t know anyone.

The kids in my program year hadn’t really hit it off yet. I wasn’t comfortable enough to really force one of them to be a tag-along.

That Saturday night as I had text back and forth with Jeanna, who was asking where I was at, I was skeptical.

I told my roommates, “They’re going to graduate in December. What’s the point? Why make the effort to be friends?”

My roommate Brian made a plausible case, “You never know what kind of connections they could be afterwards! If nothing else, go for that.”

I said if I could find a sidekick I would go. Luckily for me, Erika said she’d meet me there in 15 minutes.

Four months later as I got a little teary writing Jeanna’s graduation card among a stack of others, I thought “Wow. What if I hadn’t gone to that party?”

Maybe things would have turned out quite similar and the next weekend she would have convinced me to come.

Maybe?

Maybe inevitably my friend Alex would’ve gotten to me and forced me to hang out like he’s apt to do.

All I know is that after that night I fairly forced the graduating class to adopt me as a surrogate graduate. I spent all of my weekends with them. I went to all of their celebrations for the end of the semester. And I went through some waves of sadness in the last month realizing that the next two semesters will be very different without them.

Every time my mom would call it seemed that I was on my way to a party. “Are you sure you’re doing school work?!”

I was. But I had to make sure I squeezed in all of my time and congratulations in the midst of that school. Boston has been for graduate school, yes—but turns out that it’s also been for a lot more.

Not to mention, that birthday party? Well it turned out to be Andy’s birthday party. Yeah, that turned out kind of special too.

My life in Boston would only have been a shadow of as awesome if it hadn’t been for those people graduating.

Beautiful Christmas Sweater photo creds to Jeanna.

So, that is why I am so delayed. I’ve been living it up the last month and soaking in every last second before going back to North Carolina.

You know, as the plane landed and I’m walking through the Charlotte terminal, I couldn’t help but feel like it had only been a week that I was gone. A week of a surreal, yet very detailed dream.

It’s just nice to know that it wasn’t. And while for a few weeks that may feel like a parallel life—I’ll try to connect it to North Carolina as best as I can over the holidays.

Man, there’s one heck of a New Year’s post brewing. I can feel it!

More on turkeys, Thanksgiving, the Macy’s Parade and all this love I’m feeling for life soon. But at least now you’re decently on the news.

xxxx.

The picture of well adjustment: new friends.

The past two weeks FLEW by.

On any given week so much is happening. It’s incredible.

I’m in a constant battle to stay on top of school work. Like right now? I should be doing at least three things for class, but instead I’m blogging. But part of that is because any free time I have I’m working on Boston relationships. I’ve been really blessed so far with some freaking wonderful people up here.

Part of me can’t be surprised, since that was something I prayed about before the move. I had to say “see you later” to so many incredible people in North Carolina. They’re undoubtedly irreplaceable. But I was excited for some new friendships, as well.

Things are going great with the new roommates. While we rarely see each other; it’s really a pretty solid living arrangement. And I really want to make it a point to try to spend more time. I’m missing Sarah quite a bit right now. Need to work on some more shared time. We started a new roommate puzzle last week. Not even kidding. I love it.

Program friends are emerging. It’s so nice to spend so much time with people who care about the same things you do. It’s been a while since I’ve been surrounded by so many people so passionate about sports-–and it’s making me realize that I let myself get a little rusty in the last year or so. It’s been nice to watch so many games and so much SportsCenter. Feels like I’m fully being myself again!

Not sure who took this? Alex? Glad Katie could meet new friends on her visit.

Not sure who took this? Alex? Glad Katie could meet new friends on her visit. I’m mostly in love with Katie+Ashley love in this photo.

Every single weekend is something.

Half of the week days are something else.

There’s constantly someone to grab a beer with or an apartment to be at. There is always something fun. It finally reminds me a little bit of my Winston crowd and the constant “doing” that I love.

Two weekends ago, me and new friends Alex, Adam, Natalie and Andy all piled in Alex’s car and headed to New Hampshire for a Brews Fest. It was last minute plans for me; but so much fun.

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So much better than my last beer fest, thank goodness.

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Adam, Andy, Natalie + Me. Don’t we look happy.

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What a great October Saturday.

We’ve been hanging out since, really, the beginning of October––but already so comfortable. I’m really thankful for their friendship already; while it DOES make for hard times focusing on getting school work done.

So, to that point I spend a lot of time with these faces.

Even more time with Andy.

Enough time for me to break my high-and-mighty post earlier this summer (ha) about not writing about relationships.

After all, that same post quoted:

“In the wise words of J-Biebs, ‘never say never.'”

Suffice to say, I’m adjusting as perfectly as possible to Boston–including finding a guy that I can’t stop talking about and spending time with. Andy’s just the best.

But that’s all you get for now. It’s still early, friends. And while I’d love to go about why the last month has been freaking awesome, I would get embarrassed and awkward. And I’m pretty sure if he knew I posted about it–he would be embarrassed too. In the meantime, I bet he makes more of the photos that get posted. And maybe with some time I’ll get more brave about writing.

A good segue to Halloween though? More fun. More friends. More missed sleep. More memories.

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I was a Brady. Can you tell which one? Iris, an angry bird.

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Paper towels a giveaway? Andy + Me.

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Still haven’t gotten it? Maybe I should’ve had my hairbrush out. . .

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Marcia + Tom Brady. Haha. I just realized that. And am now giggling. Too easily entertained. PS: That is a size-12 dress I altered the hour before. Home-ec victories!

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A League of Their Own player, Marcia + Legends of the Hidden Temple Contestant. Love.

We’re at Landsdowne Bar. The street is still a mess from the World Series WIN (another post about that later) and I’m walking around bare foot because my heels were killing my feet.

We had so, so much fun. Drinks. Dancing. So much dancing.

But the most surprising part of the evening was how few words my Boston friends knew to “Wagon Wheel.”  I immediately missed home and felt a giant responsibility to ensure that they all learned the lyrics as soon as possible.

Love them.

Last photo of friend love, stolen from Jeanna. November Project continues to be a happy spot of friendship & butt-kicking.

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Gotta love the no make-up, October already paleness.

These faces are all ones that are making sure that Boston feels a little more like home. And granted, it’s not that it needed that much help.

Dear North Carolina friends though, don’t be alarmed. You’re certainly still irreplaceable. And happily, I can say with certainty what date I’ll be home and expecting to see every single one of you. Mark your calendars, December 14th through January 6th. Better see your face!

Forty Days of Dating.

I am winning at the internet today. I have the BEST thing to share with you today.

#1) Forty Days of Dating

Sounds like a chick read, right? “Oh someone’s given up dating for Lent and posted a blog about it. Groundbreaking.”

But you’d be wrong.

“What do you do when you’re tired of the prospect of dating? Two good friends with opposite relationship problems found themselves single at the same time. As an experiment, they dated for 40 days.” — Forty Days of Dating

So, it’s two designers. Be prepared for so much typography porn. And the 40 days? It’s a reference to how many days it takes to break a habit. (Kind of curious that Lent is 40 days . . . some other things are making sense, but I digress.)

They tell their story in an amazing way: side-by-side questionnaires, same questions, every day. Seeing their answers next to each other and the progression of their relationship throughout the experiment is fascinating.

Timothy (the “can’t-commit” guy) and Jessica (the “fall-too-fast” girl) give a wealth of relationship background and opinions that are very relatable. If you can’t relate to Jessica on a self-perspective, you’ve probably been involved with a Jessica. If you can’t relate to Time on a self-level, then you’ve definitely dated or been friends with a Timothy.

I find it so interesting to see their approaches to the experiment; their reactions to the same situations; their worries and musings when it comes to considering the future of a relationship and even what’s influenced them personally to shape how they act and what they’re looking for.

I read the About page. I read the bios. I watched the video. And then I read (starting at the bottom on the home page) Day 1. Day 2. Day 3. Day 4. . . .all the way to Day 10 and thought, “WHERE ARE THE REST?!” I was convinced that they are going to fall in love based on this experiment, and I needed vindication that I was right.

But where were the rest of the days!?

No fear.

They’re in the midst of posting a new day every day. Today was 11. Tomorrow will be 12.

I’m fascinated. And we all know how bossy I get when I find things I like. So, go read : ).

On not writing about relationships.

This blog is aptly named “Actually on the Line” because I pledged to lay it all out there. However, all my paragraphs have fallen curiously mute on one topic in my life.

MEN.

While I’m not quite the minxy, 20-something that would have chapters on chapters to write about when it comes to relationship developments and romance; there have been compartments of the past 14 months that have gone in investment to certain others.

Yet, this is the one line that I’ve drawn on talking about my life, my goals, my hopes, my 25 by 25s, my work and my travels. No talk about love (or the hope of it).

Why?

“Aren’t you being hypocritical censoring yourself?” you may wonder.

And sometimes I think that maybe I am.

But the truth of the matter is that I simply don’t feel comfortable writing about something that is so typically emotionally charged to write about only A) expose personal things about someone else (hey, this isn’t all about me) or B) put hopes in black and white on this blog. Oh goodness, when you talk about something it makes it real, right? Please ignore that as a symptom of weariness.

I far prefer to post obscure quotes, photos or third-party dialogues that relate to my situation and passively insinuate that I have a life outside of friends and family : ).

What do you think? Do you blog about dating?

I know that I would feel far different about it if it were something established. A bonafide, facebook-official, instagram-ridiculous relationship. But simply to write about my dating experiences, mishaps, rages, swoons and dreams––oye, I already feel too personal writing that sentence.

So tell me, if you do write about those infant relationships––how do you do it? Do you worry about them reading? Or do you worry about an online track record to your dating history?

One of my closest friends in the world writes a rather candid blog on just this matter at Confessions of a Love Addict. I adore her candor and I think that’s obviously why she has so many faithful following readers; but for me I shiver to think about future interests reading about my past. Or God forbid, current interests reading about my present. (Someone thinks an awfully lot of their blog, right?)

So, here it was. Me on relationships. I have them, yet don’t write about them. What about you?

PS: Maybe I’ll break that in the future. In the wise words of J-Biebs, “never say never.”

College Orientation. And a Love Letter.

Today was little brother’s first day of college orientation. This would be weird for me. But before I could even get nostalgic and sap about him growing up I realized that my own “first day of college graduation” was seven years ago.

And in my quickly adding-up 24 years, seven is now a lot. And somehow, it honestly feels so recent! Wasn’t it like five years ago? Right!? RIGHT!?

So, ever since I had this realization I have been happy for my brother and fixated on how fast time has gone by.

That day seven years ago, I remember my mom and I packing up my little green Nissan and hitting the winding, foggy, dark roads that carved the Appalachian mountains from home to Boone, N.C.

As I drove and Mom navigated, I excitedly thought about how I would eventually get comfortable with the turns and exits. I would probably get so familiar with this drive that it would be memorized.

I had no idea.

And as I write this I can see the entire 2 hours and 28 minutes mile marker by mile marker.

Lucky for me, I registered the same time as my good friend, soon to be roommate, starting to be sister, Brooke did. Our moms got to be buddies and so did we. There was an exciting registration and the first looks of a real dorm room. There were so many new faces and exciting food. (What is this oreo delight in the cafeteria!?) There was complaining about walking up Stadium Drive and there was exclamation about how anyone could ever learn their way around campus. Seriously. There is no way that I’ll become familiar with all of these buildings that look so similar. Besides that, when will I ever be in half of them? (I had no clue.)

And that naivety is the best part of college orientation. You are getting your FIRST taste of what life is about to be like. You are full of expectation and guessing. And you have just enough of a preview to have a hint. But, it’s just the beginning.

And that final bit of naivety? It’s the last little bit. You’re bridging the path of no return. In a few short months you will be on the other side and there will be a gap that develops between you and younger kids. You’re growing up. You’re on your own.

That day seven years ago was my first day in Boone, N.C. It was my first day fledging out into the sheltered unknown with Brooke. It was the first day of picking a direction. And it was the first day I met Shanice and Kaitlin.

As Brooke and I went to our first group meeting, we met several people who would likely be living in our building.

Shanice had great hair and was glowing with Appalachian State pride. You could tell this was a girl that Brooke and I could get excited about football games with. (And this was our priority, duh.)

Kaitlin, also had great hair, but she not only didn’t like sports—she liked horses.

Hm. We would have to see about her.

(Side note, she thought Brooke and I were stuck up. Probably because we were whispering about the horses.)

(Additional side note, we went on to enjoy every single football game together. For the most part. Until I became a sports reporter. But that’s a story for another day.)

Fast-forward two months, we kept in touch. First impressions aside, we were going to be neighbors. And then we were going to be roommates. And then it had been four years of living together and the four of us were bawling our eyes out as I was the first one to move out. (Dumb smart-kid decision to graduate a semester early. Another story for another day.)

The girls I first met that first day of college orientation are who were there for me when I graduated. Who have known every single one of my secrets. Who I fought with like sisters. Who I took for granted and who I cherished above some of my blood family. Who I supported with my every bit; who I sometimes was too honest with. Who challenged me. Who accepted me. And who had heavy influence on who I am today.

Me. Brooke. Shanice. Kaitlin.

We were (and are) a family.

Those girls were as important to my age 17 through 21 as the actual courses that I took. They taught me about what it means to be a friend. And they have in turn given me seven years of the most incredible love. They’re the first I tell every piece of news.

I sent my brother a good luck text message today. I wanted him to be excited about the fall. I wanted him to embrace and make some memories. But mostly, I didn’t want him to be afraid to talk to the kid who sits down next to him that he doesn’t know yet.

You’ll never know who they’ll be to you in seven years.

First there were two girls. Me + Brooke.

And then there were four. 2007: Shanice, Me, Brooke & Kaitlin

2006: Shanice, Kaitlin, Brooke, Me, Josette, Crystal

2007: Allison, Kaitlin, Me, Brooke & Shanice

2007: Me + Kaitlin

2007: Me & Brooke

2007: Kait & Brooke

2007: Me, Brooke & Shanice

2008: Me & Brooke (National Championship, baby!)

2009: Me & Kaitlin

2009: Shanice & Me

2009: Brooke & Me ❤ ❤

2010: Shanice & Me

2010: Me & Kaitlin

2011: Kaitlin, Me & Brooke

2012: Me, Brooke, Shanice & Kaitlin

2012: Kaitlin + Me ❤ ❤

2012: Me & Shanice

2012: Brooke + Me.

2012: Me, Shanice + Kaitlin

2012: Kaitlin & Me.

2012: Sha, Kait, Brooke & Me.

2013: Me, Shanice, Kaitlin & Brooke

I have to say, how can you miss a man so much when you have three people as awesome as this in your life. The Sex & the City friends as soul mates line is kind of cheesy; but as I pulled together all of these photos I know it’s true.

2013: Me & Kaitlin

2013: Me + Brooke.

2013: Sha & Me ❤ ❤