January 2018

Dear January,

My goodness it has been a while and I can’t tell you how glad and almost relieved I am to finally see you again. The past year has been hectic yet boring at the same time and I have spent so much of it trying to figure out my purpose in life, as existential as that sounds. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I have found it and to be honest I don’t know if I ever truly will, but I have grown to accept this and maybe it is better this way. There have been multiple quarter-life crisis’, as I have mentioned many times before due to my working life but I have tried to stop worrying over the ‘big picture’ and to just start creating a life that I am truly happy with. I have needed time to mourn over my lost dreams and to start creating new ones.

That is the part where you come in, January. You see, I think we are very alike, you and I.

We are the wild ones that dare to believe in the possibility of everything.

The ones sparkling with positivity as the brightest stars in the sky. We are the ones who don’t take no for an answer and won’t stop until we have what we want.

We are the creators, the dreamers and the doers.

Over the past few months I have found my new ‘dream’, my new ‘ideal life’ and it’s almost like a shadow that follows me around but it shines so clear like a reflection. I have always known that having a ‘normal life’ and a ‘normal job’ would never satisfy the dreamer in me. From a young age I dreamed impossible dreams and although they haven’t come true, I haven’t stopped dreaming for a better life. I knew when I got myself my first office job that it wasn’t the life I wanted, it would just keep me content until I discovered what  I really wanted. I am so relieved and excited that I am at the point where I know for sure. I just have to dabble in everything to know what I am good at, what I truly enjoy and how to be successful in it.

Being stuck in another dead ended, boring office job has made me angry, more so than I think I have ever felt. Angry that these corporation jobs only see you as a number, but I am more than the potential that they fail to see in me. My life is worth more than the wasted hours being stuck in a job like this. I want more than the standardised life, more than what society has been expecting for years. I want more than to sell my soul to a company and conforming to these set rules formed by them. I am worth more than selling my time and only being allowed 20 days holiday a year. We are all worth so much more than that but only the minority see it. I want to be part of the ‘modern life’, where we are free.

Free to be who we want, free to live and work from anywhere in the world and free to do what we love, to build a happy and fulfilled life.

Our world is changing; our technology is expanding, so why aren’t society’s expectations changing too? We live in a time where we can finally break free from the shackles of employment and to create our own reality. I won’t stop trying until I am truly free.

So although I may already be spreading myself thin with a new full time job (I changed in October), a side job, a blog to keep running and a side project to start up my new dream career, I am determined to make 2018 the year that I changed my life.

Mark my words and hold me accountable, January. I am on my way to happiness.

Always, Ashlea

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Update: Apology, Hiatus & Rediscovery.

Dear readers, (if I even have any anymore)

I feel like I need to explain myself and the lack of activity on this blog. Firstly, I want to apologise if I have let anyone down because I know for a fact that I have let myself down. When I first started this blog, it meant everything to me. It gave me that platform to express myself honestly and be able to share that with anybody who cared to listen. It consumed most of my thoughts, it gave me so much hope and excitement from everything it could develop to be. Writing this blog was my escape out of my 9-5 daily working routine stuck in an office. I really had high hopes for this blog and to grow along with it; to share my journey.

Now, I’m in no way saying that I’m giving up or that this chapter in my life is coming to an end. This isn’t another blogging fail where somebody starts a blog and doesn’t keep it going and it’s just another faded dream. I just need some time. Time to rediscover myself, rediscover what I want in life and my ambitions. Time to get my life back together and start to really feel what it’s like to live. Time to readjust my brain and begin to write frequently. Time to get back into the fluidity of writing. But mostly, I need time to find hope again. I need to find that part of me that was bursting with hope and positivity, where my dreams were as big as the universe. The part of me when I believed that I could do anything. I don’t know how long it may take but I am determined to find her again.

I’ve gone through some changes over the past few months, if you have read my recent blog posts you may have noticed. Life has been different. I’m in a relationship now and as you can imagine it has been at the forefront of my mind and has been wonderful; definitely a roller coaster of emotions. So because I have been so wrapped up in love, I haven’t really had the time, brain power or motivation to compose blog posts. I hope you can understand.

I just wanted to write this because I have felt lost recently, a little in life but mostly within myself. I’m starting to realise that maybe I used to define myself through my creations and seeing as I haven’t been creating lots recently have felt that I am losing who I thought I was. It’s a confusing and frustrating matter. Many not-so-mid-life-crisises again, needing to have the answers to what will make me feel most like myself and how I can feel satisfied with my contribution to the world.

For the time being I will resign from scheduled posts as I don’t want to write anything just for the sake of it. But you can find me on Instagram as always_ashlea as I am continually posting on there, trying to get back into photography.

Thank you for reading and understanding. I hope to speak to you soon, as enthusiastic and eloquent as ever.

Always, Ashlea.

A Letter to My Valentine

Dear Valentine, 

I have written many letters and can’t help but notice that I’ve never written one to you. I feel that needs to change. I’ve just been so comfortable getting to know and love you these past few months that I haven’t had any real desire to find the words, until now. So, my first ever Valentine, this is your love letter. 

Although you have only been in my life for a short amount of time, it feels like I’ve known you a lifetime. They say there are such things as soulmates. Someone who you instantly connect with, someone you can’t imagine life without and there’s no doubt in my mind that you are one of them. From the moment I met you, I just knew I wanted to be around you. You had this warm energy that just embraced me in the warmest way. A contagious smile that always found its way onto my face. And your jokes that somehow made only us laugh. It’s something that can’t really be explained, it can only be felt. And from then on everything between us has been so effortless. The laughter, the smiles, the conversation; the love. The thing is, I still can’t comprehend how comfortable I am around you. I’ve always been beyond insecure and the idea of someone loving me was exciting yet it terrified me. But somehow you make it all so easy, like this has been written in the stars. Before I moved here I knew deep down in my heart that someone like you was waiting, it was all just a matter of time finding you. But as I always say, good things come to those who wait and you were so worth waiting for. 

So dearest Valentine, I need you to know that I wouldn’t change you for the world and that I’ll always choose you. You’re the sweetest, most caring, funniest, patient, loving, most wonderful man I know. And I am so lucky to get to call you mine. I could write you a book on everything I love about you, but I’ll settle with these for now. 

I love how you can always make me laugh, even when I’m in a bad mood. I love all of our little inside jokes and all the memories of us doing stupid things . I love how we can laugh at our mistakes and when I’m with you, I’m always laughing. 

I love that you’re the only person that can make everything better;  if I’m having a bad day and it’s only getting worse, the only thing I want to do is run to you. I know that during the bad days you are my only light and just spending a minute with you will make the day better. Or if I’m having a great day, you’re the person I want to tell it to. 

I love that I don’t know what you know and you don’t know what I know. I love that we can both teach each other things and that you never belittle me for not knowing something, you’ll always explain.

I love how compassionate you are and you always know how to calm me down in stressful situations. Like that time I had to drive my undriveable car while it was being toed and you knew exactly what to say and do, and I honestly couldn’t have done it without you. I remember looking over at you and I knew that you were the person I always want by my side. The only person who gets me and can settle my overactive heart and irrational mind. 

I love waking up to your sleepy face and you holding me in your arms. I love coming home to you after a tedious day at work and knowing that being with you will make it better. I love every boring task that we always make fun. 

I love every goofy smile on your face, every laugh your voice creates, every second in your warm embrace. I love your accent when it differs from mine, I love your dimples when they show from time to time. Lastly, I love that you’ve taught me what love is and what it’s like to be loved. 

You have my heart, always.
Ashlea x

A Letter to January

Dear January,

Let me start by asking you how you’ve been because I’ve noticed that you haven’t been acting like your old self. I used to look forward to spending time with you, you were everything I could ever want- endless amounts of hope and motivation. You see, January, I’m just like you. We used to live in harmony back when you were my universe and I had more dreams than the stars in the galaxy.

You just have something truly magical about you. You’re overflowing with positivity and ambition that you can’t help but sprinkle it around like fairy dust. I guess I must have become addicted to the positivity that I knew you could inject me with. I grew accustomed to the buzz of hope that everything was possible, that every single thing I could ever dream of was attainable. But as time has slowly gone by in the past few years, I feel each star slowly fade away. I suppose I was just hoping that you would somehow be able to reignite that spark of hope that was once burning so bright.

I’m just confused, January. I thought we were on the same page. I won’t lie to you, for a week I felt betrayed. You noticed my vulnerability and you kicked me when I was down. I never thought that you would be the storm in comparison to the last few months which had been completely blissful. Forgive me if I’m wrong but I feel like you’ve always been a huge let down to many. I just hoped I would never be one of them. You see, you encourage such high expectations that new beginnings will always work out but little often than not, life still feels the exact same. But you always treated me differently, we shared the same outlook on the world.  Although it may not seem like you have a great impression on me as the clock strikes midnight, I promise you that deep down you’ve always made me feel most alive and most like myself.

But although you may not have been exactly what I had hoped for this year, there’s one thing that never changes, January, and it’s the hope that it will only get better. Yes, I may not be exactly where I want to be or I may not be spending my days the way I want to, but I’m further than where I was and I’m always moving forward. This time happier than before and not alone. We’re taking on the world together, one step at a time.

Always, Ashlea.

A Letter to November & December

Dear November & December,

I will admit that I've been holding back from writing this letter for a while now. I just haven't been able to put it into words. I don't know if it's because I have nothing to say, or too much. So I apologise if I have seemed to have forgotten about you, please don't take it personally. It's just that these past few weeks have been a total whirlwind and it has been hard for my head to keep up with how quickly everything has changed. It feels like I've been captivated into a blissful daze and found myself in a safe and calmly unfamiliar bubble, and to put it simply November, I got lost. I saw the sun rise and fall but I didn't acknowledge that time still moved and the world was still turning. It took a while but it's only now that I am realising that all the clichés are true. Before you came along I swore I would never be another victim but here I am claiming how easy it is to get lost in it once you've been bitten. And so I humbly apologise to all that I have abandoned, one being this letter. I truly hope you understand.

You have both been so good to me, I will always hold you dear to my heart. I keep thinking back to those days and all that accompanied it, and to be honest, I think I'll always go back there in my mind. Back to the beginning of secret stares with eyes that couldn't lie and sweet smiles that grew wider each time. To all the moments I spent laughing at jokes that only I found funny and rolling my eyes to the endless stream of sarcasm. Back to the moments when I was won over by that sweetest-dimple-exposing smile. When the nights consisted of constant laughter and teasing about different accents, cups of tea and silly debates over when to add the sugar. To all the many attempts of watching Harry Potter movies because distraction became a permanent friend. I'll still remember how those cold mornings became a constant struggle as the desperate urge to stay in bed was intensifying. Ultimately, it was a combination of late nights and early mornings, lost sleep and clumsy fallings. 

Before this letter comes to an end, I want to thank you from the bottom of my full and beating heart. Thank you for being the best to me and treating me with such care, for giving me the one thing I have always secretly craved. Thank you for your constant reminder that I am loved, even on my bad days and that the sun does rise and fall and I get to share them with my favourite person. But most of all, thank you for reminding me what happiness feels like. 

I owe you. 

Always, Ashlea 

 

A Letter to October

Dear October,

You have no idea how long I have been waiting for someone like you. Of all the wishes I have ever made, on shooting stars, 11:11 and eyelashes, they are finally coming true. It’s like you heard my silent cry and have magically turned my life around. You’ve been like my Fairy Godmother magically transforming the pumpkin into a carriage, but you’ve turned my lonely nights into memorable ones. And as each wonderful night slowly fades to morning, I now sleep with a smile on my face.

May I just say that I think you are absolutely beautiful, October. I’ve been watching you in awe, admiring your diversity of colours and how quickly it all changes. I suppose I better take it all in before you disappear for good as the Autumn leaves are falling and are being gently carried by the wind. I’ve been trying to figure out my reasons for loving you the most and I think it’s because you are like the sweetest smile on a familiar face, so warm and comforting like an oversized jumper. You are the perfect combination of electric coffee and glowing candlelight, late night drives and warm blankets. I think that’s why I love you so much, October, because you have brought the perfect balance of adventure and cosiness along with you.

Thank you October, for now I understand, you win some you lose some, that’s just part of the plan. Not everything works out if it wasn’t meant to be but one day when it does, it happens so effortlessly. So please forgive me October, for all the words that I said, for all the doubts that made a home in my head. You see, I’m just another victim of lost and faded hope but you showed me ‘perfect’ through a kaleidoscope. We’re all just people, a mixture of colours and shapes trying so desperately to find our place. We float around and swerve and crash, tired from feeling the pain of whiplash. But just give it time and it’ll all make sense, let go of your fears and put down your defence. It took a while but I finally see, that sometimes you have to get it wrong, for you to realise how right it can be.

Thank you for everything. Take care of yourself until I see you again.

Always, Ashlea

A Letter to New York

Dearest New York,

Of all the places I have ever visited, you are by far my favourite. (Shhh, don’t tell the others!) We first met when I was thirteen and I had no idea what to expect, but I can happily say that I was pleasantly overwhelmed. I’d heard a lot about you (mostly praises from my sister) and I would like to declare that all of the clichés are true. The lights are bright, the streets are busy, the food is amazing and the buildings are sky high and incredible. You are absolutely beautiful, New York, not just in your breathtaking views but in the way you make people feel alive! You inspire every single person you meet, accept each and every one for who they are and encourage them to dream big. You make it easy for us to believe that anything is possible as you demonstrate that the sky really is the limit. I think that’s the biggest reason as to how you’ve captured the hearts of so many, because you are the nurturer of dreams, the epitome of possibilities and the bearer of hope. When I’m with you I feel at home, like my inner dreamer is at peace.

I do have a question for you though, New York. Do you ever get tired? I mean, everyone knows you as the city that never sleeps but your energy barely falters. Even in the early hours of the morning you are still shining, people are still roaming the streets and shops are still open. I wonder if you are better at night; if there is a valid reason why you never sleep. I can’t tell if it’s exciting and wild or sad and lonely. Are your sleepless nights caused from the interest of being awake or because you can’t sleep? I feel the need to find the answer when I next see you, but at the same time I don’t want to ruin the perfect illusion I have of New York nights. Something about it is so enchanting to me.

But by day, I have wandered through the many avenues feeling your electricity run through my veins and although you may be a very well structured maze, I can’t help but get lost in you. There are just so many little hidden gems, well known movie scene locations and there is always something going on or new to be found. The possibilities really are endless and that’s why you are so exciting. I mean, you are the heart and home of Serendipity so we never truly know what wonderful things may be waiting just around the corner.

Of all that you have to offer, these are probably my favourite that I have been to:

For the Tourists & Prime Photography locations: 

  • Empire State Building (that’s where you got your name, right?)
  • Times Square
  • Central Park – Strawberry Fields
  • High Line
  • 9/11 Memorial
  • The Freedom Tower / One World Observatory
  • Top of the Rock/ Rockefeller Centre
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Grand Central Station
  • Radio City
  • Chrysler Building

For the New York experience:

  • 5th Avenue & Madison Avenue (Shopping galore!)
  • Tiffany’s & Co. (For those Breakfast at Tiffany’s lovers)
  • Macy’s / Bloomingdale’s
  • Serendipity (After loving the film, I need to try a frozen hot chocolate)
  • Broadway (Theatre is amazing!)
  • New York Public Library
  • Wall Street
  • The Subway
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Coney Island
  • Brooklyn Bridge Park

As much as I love you, New York, I have to admit that maybe distance is a good thing. Too much of something can ruin how much you love it. You are too exhausting for me. As much as it pains me every time I have to leave you, there is a little relief when I return home; for my feet that haven’t stopped walking and for my neck that has been constantly gazing up the whole entirety of my visit.

It’s been two years since I last saw you and introduced you to my favourite people; I hope you know that I miss you dearly. I hope to see you very soon so we can embark on more adventures together and I can continue to discover those little hidden treasures that I know you are bursting with. But for now, stay beautiful!

Always, Ashlea.

P.S Until we meet again, I’ll keep looking at my photographs and reminiscing on our time together! 

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‘New York Rain’ – Times Square
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Concrete Jungle from Empire State Building
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‘Empire’
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‘Meadow of Lights’ – The Empire State Building
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Central Park
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‘Radio City’
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‘Lady Liberty’
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Sunset views from The Empire State Building

A Letter to September

Dear September,

I have to confess something. I have been mistaking you with August for the whole 30 days, I don’t even know how. I think it’s because you usually make such a dominant entrance that everybody can’t help but to acknowledge you. The change you bring to so many lives is undeniable, some people may even think of you as January’s twin. There are some students who dread meeting you, some who are excited and there are parents who are relieved to have routine and structure back into their lives. I, on the other hand, don’t fit into one of those categories. Although, I am no longer in education, I feel like I have finished the academic year, graduated with the grades to prove it and yet somehow I’m still there when I know I should be moving on.

You see, September, you’ve just left me feeling really confused (which isn’t unusual). If I know that I’m wandering down a dead end road, then why am I still walking? I suppose I’m just a little disappointed because I was really hoping that you would completely change an aspect of my life. I felt so ready to take the world by storm and to put myself out there and  progress. It doesn’t make sense to me why you’ve made me stay in the same place when I’m capable of so much more. I hope when we next meet, it’ll all make sense and that you are leading me to a diversion which will eventually take me to where I want to be.

However, it would be wrong of me to say that you have left my life untouched. After months, if not years, of loneliness and isolation and a couple of failed attempts at socialising, I finally found a group of people I fit in with. They are as warm and welcoming as an open fireplace on a cold winters night. You know what they say, third time lucky! So although my anxiety may have escalated in the beginning, and may continue to, I know that it is totally worth it and I should have nothing to fear. Here’s to me hoping that life will only get better from here.

Always, Ashlea

 

Update: Perfection is an illusion

Hi there,

I’m Ashlea and I’m a perfectionist. When I first started this blog I was only inclined to post masterpieces, I simply wouldn’t settle for anything less. As great as being a perfectionist may seem, it has its flaws. I am my own worst critic. The pressure I put on myself to only publish the best and to dismiss everything in between has been holding me back tremendously.  I think that not only myself, but my blog plan and its layout desired perfectionism. I am a writer. Writers don’t need everything they write to be perfect, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s best to just write without thinking and not worry about who’s going to see it. It’s okay to crumple up the piece of paper afterwards, or to store it away and forget about it. That’s where growth begins. How do you improve if everything you do immaculate? This whole writing a blog thing, is a shot in the dark for anyone to ever see it. But I don’t write in the hopes of people reading it, I write for myself. And if by some miracle others come across what I have written and enjoy it or connect to it in any way, then I’ll be delighted.

The whole reason I started this blog was to document my thoughts; those deep, intricate, untainted thoughts that run through this young mind of mine. Ultimately, this blog is an insight in to Ashlea’s brain, in all its glory and confusion! I’ve said this before, but life is ever-changing, as are we. Whatever may be going on in my life and my mind will never occur again. The rest of my life is something I have to figure out, and what better way to do so than to write every step of the way?

So I came to a conclusion. If my blog was limiting my writing (sounds so ironic) then that is what had to change. So as you may already have noticed, I have changed the layout which I think encourages exploration. Instead of just writing a letter every month, I’m going to be posting a lot more, which makes me so happy and excited. I hope you are too.

But it doesn’t stop there, friends, Oh no. As I was just going about my day, at home by myself (which is very rare), I sort of had a moment of envisioning future-Ashlea. It was weird, I’ve never really thought about what her life may be like, but I could see her bordering 30, living in a cute little apartment in the city away from family, coming home from a busy and productive day. She’d be the type to start cooking whatever she wanted, not really bothering with anything fancy (trial and error sort of thing), dancing and singing happily away to her favourite songs, glass of wine in hand. Carelessly and shamelessly herself and loving it. I don’t know if she’d be living with somebody, be in a relationship, have a pet or if I was on her own. But in that thought, there wasn’t any stress of anything that could be missing, that future-Ashlea’s life may be far from perfect, but the vision of me living in my own place, being older, independent, happy and free, seems pretty perfect to me.

Also, I was reading a book and there was this one line that really made me think. The main character broke off her engagement and has a moment of looking back on their ‘perfect’ highlights. She describes the night she met his family, the first time he said ‘I love you’ etc (the obviously perfect moments in life) But there was this one moment that changed my way of thinking. It was the day they moved into their new house and sat on the stairs drinking champagne out of mugs. I just thought that life is far from perfect but that image of the time they moved into their new house, full of hope, happiness and love, spending every day with each other. That first day of moving, is not glamorous and is highly stressful – that’s the reality. So they took the reality and made it something beautiful to remember. They were together making the best of every situation – and that, my friends, is what life is all about. Perfection is an illusion. Most of the time, those perfect moments are the ones made up of imperfect details.

Thanks for reading!
Always, Ashlea