Level Up

Guys – I’m trying to come back! Its been a long three weeks and I haven’t had any time to write – but certainly gaining a lot of experiences to write about 🙂

I was definitely bummed because at the launch of the blog I had about 2,000 visitors a day which was rapidly growing. While my entire goal of the blog is not to solely gain visitors – it is a passion and something I have set as a goal. Mostly because it challenges me. { And I like that } The time is now.

My visitors have dropped off tremendously – but a big thanks to those who continue to read and listen to me bitch.

{ I mean watch me learn. }

I have been in Texas for the past two weeks. The week before that I was not feeling well. And Sabrina has been sick since before I got back to Belize. I have been home three days. I am exhausted. My body hurts from traveling. I miss my family already. Now Barry isn’t feeling well and I haven’t left the house in 36 hours. Its stormy and windy and Sabrina has a terrible cough so we have needed to stay indoors. Sigh. I was so ready to come back here – but I am also mourning the loss of the freedom to get in a car and go somewhere.

The duality of my living situation is a constant tease.

Cars and freedom of mobility. Beaches and freedom of noise. My reality is terribly out of whack :/  And I am very behind on work.

Texas was great. It wasn’t what I expected. But it was more than I ever could have hoped. I was present and attentive for Emma when she really needed me. I am ever thankful for the struggle and positive outcome I was there to be a part of. Growth is painful. But we leveled up last week. My siblings and I got together and laughed around the table for hours. We have never. Ever. Done this before as adults. It was epic. Thanks Mom for giving us kids the gift of each other.

The Kardashians have nothing on us.

So leveling up is a term we use in our house which means someone has mastered something new. Outsiders may not notice the level up happening – but Barry and I do. Sabrina levels up when she gains mastery of new language or new physical skills like hitting a ball with a bat. The big girls level up in their maturity emotionally or perhaps their understanding of life and people or even by mastering a new skill at school. Barry and I level up when we learn from unexpected circumstances and maintain our cool when all signals point to “it’s perfectly normal to freak out now”.

We all leveled up while I was gone. And now it’s time to take some deep breaths and appreciate the community and family of love that surrounds us whether we are here – or there. It is time to stop and be grateful for people filled with patience who support us and hold us when it may have been easier to just let go. For those are the people who make love tangible. Real. Unconditional. And unimaginably good.

Big Love to those in my life who stand so tall and proud next to me and my family.

Keep moving forward – today is a new day.

Big Love ❤

Ashley

Stop Contributing To Abusive Families By Watching Reality TV

Why are you suddenly shocked the Duggar girls were abused?

What show have you been watching?? Because the one I know about has always been abusive. Maybe they don’t chain their kids to the wall or beat them – but they family beliefs are oppressive and abusive.

I don’t watch the show. I’ve seen it. Never cared for it. But hey America, you’re the ones that should feel guilty because you’re part of the problem here. You want this family to be perfect so you can keep watching them be the coolest family yours will never be. You like being a fly on their wall because it entertains you. And if you’re a fan, you’ve been contributing to this families abusive mind controlling ways all along.

I loathe reality TV.

Except HGTV. But lawn renovations hardly ruin people’s lives. Reality TV families more often than not end up in shambles. It’s your fault. Quit watching it.

I’m given dirty looks when people find out I let my teenager watch Game of Thrones. At least it’s meant to be fiction! At least I’m not contributing to real families making fake drama and living fake lives so she and our family can be entertained.

So get over it. Quit posting articles {after this one of course} about how bad you feel for the Duggar girls or how much you loved the family until this or how you don’t agree with how the father handled it with authorities. Do you also agree with their other family and life teachings? Like that women are meant to have twenty babies and not allowed to have any say or control over their bodies?

Those poor teenage girls you talk about have been indoctrinated with lots of beliefs that leave them helpless – yet you’ve been contributing to this abuse for ten years now by watching their show and now watching them have baby after baby of their own. Those women are not given a choice. They’ve been brainwashed!

Women only allowed to wear skirts? Women have NO say in anything that goes on in that cult. Their opinion does not matter

Once Jill Duggar was asked what kind of man she wanted to marry . Do you know what she said? “Go ask my dad. He knows what kind of man I’m looking for.”

Not allowed to fraternize with unwed mothers?  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2928339/19-Kids-Counting-stars-Jim-Bob-Michelle-Duggar-BANNED-midwife-daughter-Jill-helping-relative-unwed-mother.html

The family has openly called all transgender people pedophiles!? Are you shitting me? Your own son is a fucking pedophile.

And now it is apparently okay for the men of the family to play with little girls but I dare to ask what would happen if it was a female child of their caught playing with a boy. OR worse, one of the boys playing with another boy.

They are never allowed to befriend anyone outside their cult system.

Older girls are forced to raise and home-school the younger children. They may say they like it – but they have no other choice! Once Jill talked about being a lawyer on TV and the episode was said to have been “deselected” by the family because they cant have their girls thinking outside the box like that. They’ll be teachers and midwives. And that is all their choices. If that’s not abusive – then I don’t know what is! I pray that these girls find loving husbands who chose not to control them in these awful ways.

Josh Duggar and the parents have been longtime supporters of the Family Research Council. Have you ever looked into what they support? It’s abusive. I think you might find it appalling. They are an anti gay hate group. Well they are a hate group for anyone outside man/woman relationships and God forbid you have an abortion – they’ll probably kill you too. It’s a hurtful group with the sole purpose of keeping women under the control of men. Gross. *throws up in mouth*

The whole family cult is abusive. Stop acting like you cared. They also abuse little girls on Dance Moms. I don’t see you throwing a fit about those kids. And don’t get me started on Honey Booboo. It makes my heart ache. These are REAL children not given the choice to be put on public display for your entertainment.

Do you really care?? Then make a difference NOW!

So if you really care – stop watching these kinds of shows altogether. Stop setting your DVR. Stop thinking it’s ok. It’s not. You’re actively contributing unhealthy lifestyles. And in some cases abuse. Mental. Physical. And certainly emotional. I’m sure that’s not what you set out to do.

Game of Thrones is on tonight 🙂 Just saying. They might portray rape. But it’s fiction peeps. It’s not a real family.

Do the right thing and stop supporting online TV families.

Do another right thing and love and support your family even if you don’t agree with their beliefs. We ALL need love.

Big Love ❤

Ashley

Expat Has Baby in Belize City Shocks Locals

Seriously should have been the headline in the paper the day I gave birth in Belize City.iPod 215 (2)

A suburban US raised white girl (I’m more like translucent but whatever) five months into her new Belize life daring to give birth in the meanest city in Belize. The only explanation for this happening must be I hadn’t been here long enough to know better –  my friends later told me. I was shocked to find out so many Belizeans actually leave Belize to give birth. They don’t trust their own system. And with some years behind me now – I know why.

I’ve had a rash of people lately asking me about expats having babies in Belize – so here’s the story.

Continue reading Expat Has Baby in Belize City Shocks Locals

Before You Go Know I Love You

Well, you only need the light when it’s burning low,
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow,
Only know you love her when you let her go.
And you let her go.
 –Passenger, Let Her Go Lyrics
Written on December  15th, 2013  Letting Go of Lilly

Sometimes in life we have to let go of things or people – especially when we don’t want to. Especially when that something has been a part of your day since you can remember. Even when every fiber of your genetic makeup is telling you it’s not time. Even when we want to keep fighting for what we believe is best. Even when your heart aches at the mere thought. We have to let go to – in order to go on.

This week we are having to let go. Even though it is not what we want. And our hearts will surely ache.

Just as our daughter Lilly turns 13 next week she will be moving to Indiana to live with her Father, step-Mother, and little Brother.  After careful consideration, unprecedented communication with her Father, counsel from family, and some soul searching of my own, we made a family decision to allow her to move.  The decision was made months ago but I kept secretly hoping that Lilly would change her mind, or plans would fall through. Selfishly – I just want her here with me. I want my baby bird under my wing where I can protect and groom her. She’s not supposed to leave the nest yet. My brain is hardwired to be with her. But I have come to terms with the reality. The truth is she’s not leaving the nest, but rather going to experience a new nest where she WILL be loved and cared for as she continues to become a young woman. And she knows she can always come back to us. She knows our unconditional love.

For the first time in 13 years I won’t be waking up to her face. I won’t be calling her name 10 times every morning trying to get her up.  I won’t be taking her to the first day at her new school. This is my first time to miss a “first day” of anything in her life.  I won’t be there for every school event or performance. And I will no longer be the one drying heartbroken tears or packing her favorite things for lunch. It will no longer be me. And this makes me very sad. I will be homesick for her – our whole family here will miss her.

I also feel very proud and am confident in Lilly.  Because for the first time in 13 years Lilly is confident enough in herself to be able to handle such a big change. Because she is brave and strong. She is ready. She knows she can pull through any hard times. She strongly feels that more educational opportunities are available in Indiana than here in Belize. And possibly most important -I know she wants and needs to connect with her father. I have to feel good knowing Lilly has grown to not fear the world and its possibilities. I take comfort in her attributes as we are learning to let go of Lilly.

I have always taught my daughters these things, but I want all 3 to now be able to read it and know these things are true no matter how old you get, or how smart you think you are. I want, you, Lilly to know my thoughts and advice, even from many miles away since I won’t be there myself to remind you.

So, girls, if you can’t remember here are a few basics you can always count on:

  • Do not be afraid, be cautious instead – making choices out of fear usually results in a mess.
  • When you don’t know what else to do in a moment of stress – take a few deep breaths. Or twenty.
  • It is better to say nothing at all than to speak hurtful words. You can never take the words back.
  • When you are hurting and angry, remember that your feelings are valid and REAL. But don’t hurt others because you are upset. 
  • Kindness never goes out of style. Just Be Kind. It’s not really all that difficult to do. Smile at an old person, feed the homeless, thank a soldier or just call your mother.
  • You can be a kind woman and not be a pushover. 
  • It is always okay to say NO and expect to be respected. In your future career, with someone who says they love you, to your best friend. Do not compromise your standards for anyone!
  • LOVE is the greatest thing in the world. To love and be loved is at the core of the choices we make every day. It is the core of our being.
  • You can always count on your Family for LOVE. No matter who – what – when – where or why, we are here to share our love with you. You never have to go looking for it at the bottom of a glass (unless *maybe* its wine). Kidding. You don’t need to search for love from a stranger. Or a drug. Or recognition in a job that makes you miserable. Come home anytime, you will be loved without question. 
 
Be-still my heart – L to R: Emma, Sabrina, Lillian.
Big Love ❤
Ashley