Clearing My Head

The sky was the kind of blue that only comes from the stark contrast made by five inches of pure white snow, gray branches and an amazing orange and pink sunset off in the horizon. It was the kind of night where I could really get lost in my thoughts as I trudged through the snow, trying to keep up with my brother and two dogs.

That’s the nice thing about going for walks with my brother: I’m not required to make conversation. Granted, for the first fifteen minutes I usually talk his ear off, not having anyone else to chat in person with during the day, but after I get it out of my system we usually just walk along in silence. Part of this is because I can never quite keep up and I’m usually several feet behind him, having much shorter strides than he. This always was a problem when traveling and at the end of the two weeks spent together, I grew to absolutely detest it and would be cursing his back as he slowly became a dot in the distance. On one occasion, he was so far ahead I lost him and ended up standing on a German street corner waiting for him to realize I wasn’t behind him any longer.

Anyway, I’m veering off course here.

I grew to really appreciate peace and quiet while living in NYC. When thesis would become too much I would walk in circles around the resevoir. When my job was driving me insane I would get lost in the ramble (or go all the way to Wyoming to walk around Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons National Park). When I got to Europe I would take long walks by myself to just clear my head.

Whenever I have things on my mind I need to get out into the fresh air and zone the eff out. It’s taken me a little while to figure it out, but being in wide open spaces, with nature surrounding me, is when I feel most balanced. A fresh breeze and the sound of birds does wonders to cure a bad mood (As do ocean waves). For a while, though, I had lost the ability to do that. There was job frustration layered with heartbreak and confusion topped with slight depression over the past year and even a run through the biting cold that hurt, at night in Central Park, couldn’t cure it. It wasn’t until around late September when I noticed something change within me. I believe I was in Norway, walking up Bergen’s second highest mountain surrounded by mossy greenness that I realized that, for the first time in maybe my entire life, I was in love with my life.  It happened over and over and over again, when I walked through a valley on the Isle of Skye surrounded by two beautiful mountain ranges; when I was walking through the streets of Seville, not caring if I got lost; when I was walking along the Seine in Paris at night, the Eiffel Tower all lit up in front of me. And those are just a handful of the many many moments when I felt my heart soar.

I just wanted to run up to random people and tell them how fantastic my life was. I wanted to tell the bartender who looked at me like I was crazy when I asked where the start of the trail was, standing in my lime green rain coat that was a couple sizes too big and shoes that let in the water instead of kept them out, that my life was too amazing not to experience this just because I might get a little wet. I got extremely wet but I didn’t care, I was in love.

Last night was bitterly cold, the kind that really gets into your bones but I didn’t care. I let my brother and dogs get a little ahead of me in the dusk, I kicked the powdery snow up in poofs in front of me as I went and I felt the peace settle over me. My brain, which can sometimes be a simmering pot of thoughts and can drive me a little insane, was cleared out and I could feel it smiling. You know that feeling. That feeling when things just are right in the world, even if it’s just for a moment. My life might not be perfect, but I’m still madly, passionately, in love with it.

I never want that to change.

{spectacularpieces.com}

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I Think I Need to Leave the House More.

This song just…defines me right now. So just put it on and then read my post while listening. And realize it has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m writing about. It’s just my song of the moment.

* * *

So you know how sometimes you have days where you are just Cranky McCrankerson and you get snappy? You’re all headachey and moody and holy fuck did that person really just do that? And you decide you’re just going to join a convent because this whole dating thing isn’t going the way you want and then you remember you can’t have sex in a convent and scratch that idea IMMEDIATELY. And you conveniently forget things, like the fact that you are a GIRL and the crazies are really just part of the package of being a girl. Once you realize that though, everything gets better and you’re no longer AS stabby as you’ve been the past couple days. You still shouldn’t be allowed to talk to anyone, but the crazy has subsided enough for you to appear normal again.

It helps when your parents walk into the room you’re in, tell you they have something they need to talk about and you’re POSITIVE they’re going to try to convince you that you shouldn’t move to Colorado in three weeks–NO MAKE THAT TWO WEEKS–and you’re preparing yourself to wage war. Then they throw a car key at your head and you’re all WHAT THE EFF? And you go running to the window and it’s better than christmas and your birthday combined because there is a gorgeous new car sitting outside and your parents are saying something about how that’s YOUR car but you can’t really hear them because HOLY SHIT YOU HAVE A CAR!

And the world explodes and it’s all shiny sparkly light and you just want to HUG your car and take a million pictures with it. You drive around with the stereo blasting in your BRAND NEW CAR. It’s snowing outside and you don’t care because you have four wheel drive and wind shield wipers that work and brakes that brake and this is your car–YOURS–and everything is falling into place perfectly. You hug your parents and wish your grandmother was there to hug her because it was her gift to you and you’re just so excited because IT’S A CAR. And it’s so much more than you thought you’d ever get.

Of course headaches don’t go away just because you get a car, and stabbypants doesn’t leave either but for a minute you’re so happy you want to go high five strangers (and low five, even). Oh who are you kidding? It’s not just for a minute. You still want to.

Then you try figuring out how a website is built or something and your head explodes from not understanding it. And from the mess on the floor you try to explain to your boss how to do whatever it is you have to do and you’re both confused and you both end up laughing hysterically about how absolutely chinese it is. (No offense to the chinese, it’s just…I’d learn chinese faster than HTML. And I’m not good with languages.) Then you count yourself lucky that your old boss (current boss?) is effing fantastic and if you could combine her with your old coworkers and pajamas til 3pm you’d have the PERFECT job.

Then you start singing along at the top of your lungs to Rihanna’s Hard “I’ma rock this shit like fashion, as in goin’ til they say stop And my runway never looked so clear But the hottest bitch in heels right here No fear, and while you getting your cry on I’m getting my fly on Sincere, I see you aiming at my pedastal I betta let ya’ know” except you don’t really know the REAL lyrics and they come out sounding alittle weird. Then you look out the window and there’s your pretty new car and HOLY SHIT YOU ARE MOVING TO COLORADO.

Now you tell yourself you must go play Scrabble you can make up words like Edile and they’re actually RIGHT but you’re still losing horrifically (I need to find another playing partner than Peter. I’ve never won a game against him. Hmph.).

Then you realize this entire post is written in the third person mixed with first and you wonder who let the crazy out to play today.

Oh, Won’t You Be My (Blog) Valentine?

It’s that time of year again.

After everything that has been going on in the blogosphere, both good and bad, I think it’s the perfect time to unwrap my second annual Be My (Blog) Valentine. Last year was such a success and while it didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked (on my end), I think it’s worth a second shot!

What is Be My (Blog) Valentine?

Well, it’s sort of like Secret Santa. I randomly match up everyone participating with another blogger, you won’t know who has you, and your valentine won’t know you have them. You can send your valentine whatever you would like–a gift card, baked goods, a little carepackage (I got nail polish, lip balm and window stickers from my blog valentine, Maxie!)…whatever you feel your valentine would like. I’d advise taking the time, if you don’t already know your valentine, to look around their blog. You can always find inspiration there.

This is also a great way to discover new blogs so I hope you will join in some internet loving! Please feel free to use the badge above on your own blog (just make sure you link back to this post!), as well as pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested. This is open to EVERYONE!

Some basics….

To enter you must leave a comment on this post with your email address and blog link (if you have a blog, it’s not necessary! Just make sure you give me your email, some information on what you like, your interests, etc so i can pass that on to your valentine.), starting today and any time up until 11pm  January 19th. Also, if you have any food allergies, please let me know so that in case someone decides to bake you something, they know what to avoid!

I am moving at the end of this month and want to have everything taken care of by the time I leave. If you have any questions you can always email me at ashalahblogs@gmail.com.

Oh won’t you be my (blog) valentine?

I Got Drunk By Myself on New Years Eve. What About You?

Another holiday weekend has come and gone. Really, no different than any other day in the boring life of Ashalah except that we passed into 2010 and I actually left the house a few times.

New Years Eve Eve I went up to East Lansing to see my old stomping grounds at Michigan State and nearly caused an accident driving past my old dorm complex. They were in the process of turning the old box of a cafeteria that we had into this huge modern structure and I was openly gaping. I went into town to meet an old friend for dinner and drinks and wandered through the little town since I had some time to spare. It was like the old town had been torn down and a new one had been built in it’s place. I don’t remember it being this cute! And so many new restaurants and stores. Pita Pit was still there and so was the bookstore that stole all my money every semester but there was a shiny new Barnes and Nobles and the Steve and Barry’s was replaced by another school spirit store. It took a lot of willpower not to buy everything SPARTAN.

I met up with Alex and her boyfriend and went to the Peanut Barrel for dinner. It was nice to catch up; she now lives in LA and I hadn’t seen her since I left SEVEN YEARS AGO. Seriously. How is time passing this quickly?! I had a grilled chicken (I was *going* go to for the greasy cheeseburger but decided to be “healthy.”) and continued to slather it in Mayo and Ketchup (see? “HEALTHY.” Some habits die hard.).  It started snowing before I left and I walked through town a little, my heart getting all nostalgic. I had so much fun at MSU and had forgotten just how much I loved going to school there. I definitely miss it.

New Years Eve I was still undecided on what I wanted to do: do I stay in and be lame or do I spend $65 dollars to go out in Detroit with my married friends? Since I didn’t really feel like paying money to be reminded that I’m single, I opted to stay in. I ended up in bed with my mom, a bottle of champagne between us and Ellen’s standup routine on the TV. Five glasses later….

…the clock struck midnight, we toasted to the new year and then I went to bed. As soon as I stood up I was all ohhhh so THAT’S how drunk I am. I think I even tweeted about it. I tried to be all nonchalant and not let on to my mom that I was pretty effing hammered, and I think I got away with it but that may be because the door to the room was five feet from where I stood and I successfully cleared the doorframe so I think I’m good.

Friday night (New Years Day) I met up with two more married couples, my best friend Steph, her husband and my good friend Joe and their friends Janelle and Sean. Steph was my neighbor at State for two years–funny enough, a girl we initially started hanging out with told us nasty stories about her and tried to get us to hate her. In a  twist of fate, we ended up best friends with Steph and wouldn’t talk to this other girl. Some old high school rivalry or something. ANYWAYS. We went to dinner at Mongolian BBQ in Ann Arbor, which I had never been to before. It was pretty good, and I liked that service was so quick–since we WERE serving ourselves, basically.  We sat there for 3 and a half hours, drinking, chatting and having a good time.

Steph and I at dinner

Sure it was a lot of baby talk and breast feeding stories and such (Janelle and Sean just had a baby) but we did talk a lot about travel so I will give them credit for not making it ALL about marriage and babies, subjects that are completely foreign to me. At one point they did try to figure out who they could set up with me and apparently when I move out to Seattle/the west coast (which I eventually will), I will have four different suitors.

Steph and Joe

Joe & 20 toothpicks jammed in his mouth. This was right before he asked the Starbucks lady if they had any toothpicks. Just in case, you know, COFFEE got in his teeth.

The rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful, unless you count my  mother acting like a five year old because I won’t add her as a friend on Facebook. Have I mentioned that she doesn’t even HAVE a Facebook account? Also, did I mention that Facebook failed in keeping my profile private from my aunt?? Yeah I put her on limited profile and apparently that did nothing because when talking to my mom, she said she already knew what I was up to thanks to Facebook letting her see my wall. So now my mom isn’t speaking to me and my dad wants me to be a nice person and just add her.

Family. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.

I do have some good news: I am getting a car!!!!!!!! Living in Boulder is going to be a lot easier now. Did I mention I’m moving to Boulder at the END OF THIS MONTH!!?? Squeeeeee!!!!!!!! Colorado HERE I COME.

I also updated my About Me page, gave myself a fanpage on Facebook. Oh and if you didn’t know? I have Twitter too!

Ashalah’s New Year’s To Do List.

Screw resolutions. I can’t tell you how many I’ve made over the years (millions?) that I haven’t followed through on. I get things done much more efficiently if I have a nice To-Do List so that’s what this year is going to be about. One giant Life’s To Do List.

Be a Better Friend. Get Rid of the Toxins.

This is probably the one resolution that is the most important to me. I realize over the past few years I have let friendships slide, haven’t put in the proper time for them. I haven’t been the best a friend I could be. 2009 was a big year on finding myself and when I went off to Europe, I realized a lot of things, realized who I want to be and who I want in my life. So not only will I be a better friend but I will get rid of the friends who just aren’t there for me. Who bring more toxic to my life than positive energy. I believe you have to be the friend you want in someone else, so therefore, that’s what I’m doing.

Take More Risks.

When I stepped into my boss’ office and handed in my resignation, I think 50 doors opened at once, welcoming me in. For months I hmmed and hawed at this decision, though. I was terrified what taking this risk would lead to. WHAT IF I FAILED? What if I got to Europe and couldn’t do the whole traveling by myself thing? Except that it turned my life around. My life went from being incredibly depressing and just plain old horrendous to being the best year of this decade. Now I ask myself what would have happened if I hadn’t taken that chance? So this next year I plan on taking more risks. I certainly won’t be jumping out of any planes but I won’t turn down things that could change my life and make it better. First thing planned? Moving to Boulder, CO without a job or any real plan other than living life.

Be More Productive. Get More Organized.

I’ll admit I’ve kind of gotten the lazy thing down pat after a month of being home from Europe and living with my parents. One thing that has been a recurring theme though is the disorganization. When I became really unhappy with my job, I started letting other things slide in my life and now that my life is back in my control? It’s time to take back everything and become organized in all aspects. Being more organized will only lead to me being productive. It has been about a year since I did any real work and that year has been tough on my motivation but I think I can regain it back. Hell, I don’t just think, I KNOW. (Now that’s the attitude, Ashley!)

Manage My Weight and Eat Healthy.

Sigh. I think I make this resolution EVERY. YEAR. But this year I am going to try my hardest to make my lifestyle healthier. I lost 15 pounds while I was in Europe and while I did gain back five pounds after getting back to normal eating. Eating baguettes for three months will thin you right down. However, I’ve managed to keep my weight down and I’m at my average weight that I usually hover around. I’d love to lose a little more and tone up. I would love not to feel uncomfortable in my clothes. I know how good it feels to be healthy, I’ve been there before and I know how hard it was sticking with that lifestyle but it was worth it. I want to get back into Yoga, want to run again, want to go to the gym and get my ass kicked by the trainers.

Pack Up My Baggage and Lose It.

I have a hard time letting go of things, especially when it comes to guys. Every slight I’ve ever taken, every wound that has been inflicted, I tend to hold on to. And I need to stop. Sure, it sucks what I’ve been through in the love department but I don’t need to hold on to that. I need to pack that shit up, zip up my suitcase, go down to the detroit airport, put it on a flight and LOSE IT.

Take a Photography Class.

I want to learn more about photography, really get into the nitty gritty of it. I want to hone my skills and really get into it as a hobby, and maybe eventually be able to do it on a more professional level.

Take a Website Design Class. Get My Own Domain. Get A Custom Design.

When it comes to my blog, there are many things I dream for it’s little existence. I have been blogging for two and a half years and while making the headers is fun, I’d love to be able to have a custom designed blog. I can see myself at Ashalah for a long time so I’d love to have my own domain, my own place that reflects ME. I would of course love to know some web design just so that I know alittle bit. I’m pretty useless in that department and wouldn’t even know what to do WITH a custom designed blog should I get one!

Read More.

I have fourteen books on my bookshelf–physical books–that I have to read, not including the book I am currently reading. One thing I loved while traveling was picking up a good book and reading. I would read one a week; I often had a lot of time on my hands so I was able to do that. Even when I become busy I want to continue reading. It was so rewarding to get through a book and just love it.

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. ~Oprah Winfrey

That’d be me, with one of the many glasses of champagne I had last night.

{photocredit: Me, Spectacularpieces.com}

2009: A Year in Pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words right? Well here are the pictures that best capture 2009. (Inspired by Princess Pointful)

January.

I went and saw the Magic Flute at the Metropolitan Opera with these lovely ladies:

I miss my coworkers!

The great decorate of 2009 of my new apartment

February.

In my bathroom trying on my newly reacquired ski gear for the work ski trip I took

Pearl and I discovered the most amazing Hungarian pastry shop and I promoted..sugar?

Better than sex. ALMOST.

March.

I was reacquainted with the step stool that caused me to break my toe the year before. This was during our massive send off of the project we worked for three weeks on at the office:

The assembly line in full force

Returning to my Teeny Bopper roots at the Britney Spears Concert

April.

Picnics in the park with my besties were the highlight of my spring

Gotta love remaking Disney Classics.

May.

Fist Bumping for my birthday weekend in Vegas

Celebrating my 27th birthday with Pearl, another May baby!

Spent a week goofing off in Wyoming with Kira

June.

Twister in the office

Lions, and Tigers, and Jess, oh my! A day with Jess and my wifey at the museums!

And who can forget my night out with Maxie and Cavy which ended with me and a to-go container of alcohol?

July.

I had the 2nd July 4th appearance of the Green Man

The family reunion by Lake Michigan

Watching my dad fall out of the sail boat was pretty entertaining.

Looking through old photo albums of my ancestors provided hours of entertainment and laughs. We have some FUGLY relatives.

August.

The first print I sold off of Etsy!!

So if you remember, I quit my job. I then had my going away party. These are my two crazy ladies who always bring the fun. Miss them!

At another going away party for my bff Lauren aka Noren (the person who officially gave me the name Ashalah) These are my wonderful FIT friends Ray, Min Young and Monika

Rawr. Maxie and I at the NYC Blogger Meetup!

Breakfast in bed with Doni and Rachel

On the Brooklyn Bridge with Doni

Laughing with Phampants and Doni

And then I get to Europe!

September.

After successfully climbing to the top of Priekestolen in Norway

The site of the horror movie I almost starred in thanks to the Messenger. We then proceeded to make out all over London, on a ferry to Amsterdam and ALL over Amsterdam.

Isle of Skye where I couldn’t stop obsessing over how gorgeous Scotland was.

October.

I fell in love with Spain.

This guy helped me learn how to loosen up and have fun. He also happens to be The Messenger.

I rode a camel in Morocco into the sunset.

November.

I stayed with a nudist stoner in this gorgeous town.

Hiked out to an abandoned monastery in Granada with a group of Canadian Boys

Discovered the nutella et banane crepes are a food group that I could live on and DELICIOUS.

Had a love affair with the Eiffel Tower.

December.

I came home from Europe, I ate a lot, and I became boring.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, fun, safe and glamorous New Years Eve!!

Here’s to 2010 and a billion more pictures.

Where in the World Wednesday: Kutna Hora, Czech Republic

It’s Wednesday and I have decided to take part in Classy in Philadelphia‘s Where in the World Wednesday series!


The idea of WITWW is to post a picture of you in someplace in the world…it doesn’t have to be somewhere foreign or tropical. Just a picture of you somewhere that you consider traveling.


Your eyes are not mistaking you, those really are bones that I’m surrounded by. In October of 2008 I went to the Czech Republic, mainly to Prague, for a few days while visiting my brother in Germany. I had heard about this Ossuary in Kutna Hora, about half an hour away from Prague and just had to go. It’s interior is made up entirely of human bones. Human bones that were all dug up and left on the grounds of the church in medieval times. Whoever was morbid enough to design a chandelier out of every bone in the human body needed to have his head checked.

One more picture, for a clearer shot of all the creepiness…

That’s a HUGE shield made of, you know, bones. TOTALLY NORMAL.If you look closely there’s a bone-bird picking out the eye of the skull.

Tell me how this is religious?

Anyway, it’s creepy as fuck, especially in person, so I highly recommend going if you are in Prague. (And you should DEFINITELY go to Prague!) The town is also very cute. If that makes you feel any better about visiting a place made out of bones.