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.ย 

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.”

IMG_4325

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.
Advertisements

The Owl Life.

I’ve always had trouble going to bed. I was the rotten seven-year-old with a dozen excuses to pop back out of my room. And as an adult it’s not much better–I have very little will to stick with a 10:30 p.m. normal bedtime. (Maybe I’m not actually an adult after all…)

Even when I would abide by a routine, at alternating times in life–be it because of stress or just busy-ness–I’ve often grappled with insomnia.

4 a.m. and I are pretty intimate.

But now we’re like in a Facebook-official relationship.

In the list of things that have been adaptations with getting used to a new job—I’m now officially an “overnighter.”

My work days go from roughly 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. with the beautiful perk of working four nights a week. Not everyone jumps in line for this shift–but I think I came into it with a solid 26 years of preparation.

My new typical day involves getting home from work as everyone else is leaving. I eat my first breakfast. Maybe squish in a work out. Read a chapter of whichever Harry Potter book I have caught up to. Sleep for a good seven hours. Slowly thaw out from that sleep over the course of two hours and a Hallmark movie or more reading by the pool. I eat second breakfast. Quickly get ready for work. Soak in a daily hour Facetime with my Andy–and then a chat with mom on my drive back into work.

The days fly by. Before you know it Monday has turned into Wednesday and your weekend is just around the corner.

It’s both the most beautiful and the most startling.

At work the shifts are more intimate with fewer people in the newsroom and everyone carrying a larger plate of responsibilities as a result for the 10 hours that you’re churning away on shows. Since I work for CNN International this is one of the times where you’re most likely to see my shows broadcast on CNN–as it often simulcasts our programs during the wee domestic hours. Unsurprisingly most of our news overnight is focused on Asia, Western Europe and the MIddle East which is much further into their next day.

It’s been an amazing opportunity to learn because there’s always extra places to lend a hand and new tasks to try for the first time. Plus, there’s an unspoken camaraderie about being awake and working hard at 2 a.m. while deliberating what to eat for “lunch.”

Honestly? I love it.

It seems like the perfect application of my “I don’t want to go to bed yet” excuses. And nicely, during the morning when I get home, I’m so perfectly exhausted that sleep is no problem.

The only issues?

Those normal-person routine things like a weekly social life, exercising, running errands and cooking–those are hard.

Working out, especially, is tough. Who wants to work out after working 10 hours? Who wants to work out when it’s 90 percent humidity outside in glorious Atlanta at 4pm? >This girl.<

I’m trying to get into a morning routine. I’ve found my best strategy so far: avoid the couch. JUST LACE UP YOUR DARN SHOES, ASHLEY. ๐Ÿ™‚ First breakfast can come afterwards!

There are definite pluses and minuses to this new shift; but for the most part I think I’m adjusting marvelously. If only I can remember to keep balance—still plan time for the routines, the me time and the time with my family and friends on the weekends.

One of the hardest parts about embarking on the new job adventure was doing so 2,500 miles away from my love. But surprisingly a vampire-like schedule is quite conducive for cross-country phone dates.

The biggest emotional side effect of this new schedule is the tendency to indulge.

I crave a lot of comforts.

I don’t know if it’s a reaction to having a schedule flop — or just Ashley still adjusting to a new city. Probably a lot of both. But usually this means when I have a strange desire to light pumpkin candles in July — I do it. And if Hallmark is showing Christmas movies — I watch.

One last side issue to my moonlighting is this “breakfast issue.” I have cereal or waffles roughly 12-15 meals a week. Maybe this is the comfort thing, you say.

I argue that it’s a “breakfast is the best meal of the day” thing.

“But 12-15 breakfasts a week, that’s extreme,” you may come back.

My response to that, for now?

More waffles, please.

The Atlanta I Love.

I’ve been in love with Atlanta since I was probably five years old.

Something about the skyline driving through to Braves games or the combination of road-side farmers stands and urban graffiti. I have always loved the eclectic southern-ness of Atlanta and it was a beacon of “the goodย life” for me since I was a teenager.

“Man, if I live in Atlanta when I grow up — I will be the HAPPIEST,” I thought and wrote in my diary probably 50 times from 2001 to 2010.

I couldn’t wait to be able to go to The Ted on any given day of the week, read the AJC on the reg and officially be considered a peach state resident. Strange aspirations maybe, but they were all tokens of the city that I obsessed about.

I had and have been to other cities of course; but Atlanta has always been magical to me.

Growing up I would tell anyone who would listen about how one day I would probably be VP of Communications for the Braves and if not that maybe I would work at CNN. Lofty ambitions, but life is funny. And great sometimes.

You can imagine what people said when I announced four months ago that I was moving here. It was the smallest surprise of the year. Half the people I told thought that I already lived here.

Now, I live here.

Every day.

I don’t think I’m a bonafide Atlantan yet by any means. I DO have a Marta card; but I’ve never been to a number of the local institutions like Manuel’s or the Landmark. I’ve yet to really run very far on the Beltline and I’m not sure I could find my way around on the west side of I-75. I have no idea what the best restaurants are in Decatur and I haven’t been to a single festival yet. There is a lot to still see and experience on my “Atlanta To-Do List.” In fact, I probably need to create an actual list.

Related: If you live in Atlanta and have suggestions on what earns me my Atlantan certificate. Please advise.

But now on any given Tuesdayย I can go to Braves games, explore new restaurants, neighborhoods and museums.

Atlanta is home.

And I love Atlanta.

The trails. The parks. The history. The culture. The diversity. The food scene. The music. The access to hiking, swimming, home, friends and family.

There are so few things that could improve this city for me. (Aside from much improved public transportation. That’s it.)

But I found an Atlanta that I loved even more when Andy visited last week.

It wasn’t in a specific place or an activity. We had:

  • normal nights at home
  • tacos at Superica
  • drinks on the Beltline
  • King of Pops shade breaks
  • hikes on Stone Mountain
  • tent time at Lake Lanier
  • tomahawk chopping at Turner Field
  • picnics at Piedmont Park
  • meanderings downtown
  • sightings at MLK’s childhood home
  • lots of neighborhood explorations

It was a normal week of me trying to share why I loved this city so much.

Since moving here, it has been so fun–but I promise you that each exploration was paired with “I wonder what Andy would think of this?” or an “I can’t wait to show this to Andy when he visits.”

Can you imagine how lovely it was to just adventure and have him there to talk about it?

It was the BEST Atlanta yet.

Turns out when you combine the city you love + the person you love, it results in the BEST days.ย But, not to cheese ball, basically Andy and I always have the best time regardless of what city we’re set in.

I was pretty close to right at 14 years old when I thought that living in Atlanta would be the end-all to pure happiness.

But this week I saw a side of an even sweeter Atlanta that I hadn’t quite experienced yet–and oh boy, I cannot wait to visit that place again.

In the meantime, I get to keep exploring. I get to keep finding new reasons that Atlanta is my favorite. More parks to venture into and more neighborhoods to wander. More days to learn about myself in a city that–over the years–has been integral to my figuring out who I am.

While I really wish Andy was coming back tomorrow or that my trip to Portland started Wednesday instead of three weeks from now–I have Atlanta. And if I have to be patient for the day that we get to make a city ours, I’m positive that 95-degree heat, 80-percent humidity, and all, I wouldn’t take any other place while I wait.

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 beginsโ€“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.