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.

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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

 

Letter to August

Dear August,

Apologies for writing to you so late, as you have now been replaced by somebody new and exciting (I deeply know how you feel). So let this letter be your memoir of everything you’ve left behind.

Dearest August, you have by far been the most ‘hot and cold’ so far, and I don’t just mean your temperature. You’ve had me going out of my mind, desperately trying to find the answer to rhetorical questions. Together, we’ve seen sleepless nights spent tossing and turning, attachment to distance and separation, and also days of doubts, worrying and an existential crisis. But in spite of all of those things, you’ve given me the confidence to start something new, an exciting new job prospect and most importantly, a lovely weekend to celebrate my new sister-in-law.

I just want to mention that I honestly think that the both of them are a great match. I know that’s what everyone says, but I really mean it. They didn’t meet each other early on in their lives; they’re not childhood sweethearts. They met during a time of ‘settling down’, when people start to worry if they’re not at that stage because everyone else around them seems to be. But what they have made me realise is that maybe, good things really do come to those who wait. Maybe all that time before meeting was their prepping stage – the time when they could figure out their own lives and dreams. Grow into the people that are perfect for each other. I mean, they’re not old, by any means. They get to live more of their lives together than they did apart. So in the end, maybe waiting for perfection is the best way.

I guess what I’m trying to say, August, is that they have taught me something rather valuable. Love should have no time limit. You shouldn’t worry over the details of finding that person or what they will be like. They will find you at the right time and that’s something you just have to believe in.

 

Until next time August,

Always, Ashlea.

P.S I really hope that when my time comes, I can look as beautiful as she did. 

A Letter to Me at 13

Dear Thirteen Year Old Ashlea,

There are a million things I could inform you on regarding your future. I could tell you what not to do and how I have ended up now, at the age of twenty, but where’s the fun in that? Everyone knows that the choices and mistakes you make, determine your future and I don’t want to ruin that for you. I may not be in the position I would have liked, but there’s still progress to be made. Anyway, although you may have been embarrassing, to say the least, you have shaped the person I am today and I suppose I can’t hate you for being your cringe-worthy, awkward and shy self. So this is a list of the important things that I wish I could go back in time and tell you, just to save the hassle and embarrassment.

So let me start off by saying congratulations, you have made it to twenty, and still haven’t been in hospital with a broken bone, or undertaken any type of surgery or been seriously ill. You haven’t had your heart broken, nor failed an exam that matters, and all your family are safe and well.

I regret to tell you that puberty hasn’t magically transformed you into a model, you haven’t overcome your social anxiety, although it’s much better, and you still haven’t visited Paris, so apologies for that. However, I can happily say that everything is going to be okay. Of course there will be times when everything is in black and white but that can change, and it does. Nothing is permanent – trust me. I hate to break it to you, but you don’t live in the same house you grew up in, anymore. That crazy idea that mum and dad had about moving to the countryside, yeah that actually happens. But don’t stress about it, you’ve still got to get through high school (as painful as it will be) and then there’s two incredible years ahead of you. Although moving will be the biggest pain in the bum, you make it through and I am so proud of you. At the age of twenty you can drive and have your own car, which is pretty cool, bet you can’t see yourself driving in a few years’ time. You’re working full time in an office which is alright, you’ll appreciate it once you go through the whole moving fiasco. It may not be your ideal job, but it’s only the start. You win some, you lose some, that’s just how this crazy life goes but things are looking up!

First thing’s first, I’m the realest. The funny part about that, is that it doesn’t even exist to you yet. But all jokes aside, I need to tell you some things. Firstly, take a look at your ‘friends’. They don’t understand you, can sometimes make you act out of character and are sometimes really mean and put you down. They aren’t friends and it’s actually okay not to be around them. This is the time you learn that friendships are so sacred and sometimes you need to let go the people who don’t fit in your life and don’t give as much as you do. But just hold on because these people are there to help you appreciate how right a friendship can be. The best friend you’re wanting to have, someone who understands you perfectly, like you’re thinking from the same brain; she exists. It won’t be that much longer until you meet her and your whole life will change. She will be one of the biggest impacts in your life, she will teach you new things, about friendship, about happiness, about yourself. And the one thing I can promise you, is that she will never leave. You will never grow apart, and you will still be quoting the same song lyrics and saying the same things at the same time. She will become part of your family and it will feel like you’ve known her your entire life. So although, your friendships may be a bit broken and tainted now, they won’t be for much longer. I promise you this.

At sixteen you will meet your best friend as well as some amazing people who will inspire you to become a better version of yourself and also bring you the most happiness you have ever experienced, and it will be consistent. When you meet them, please treasure every single moment because life will never be the same again and you will spend the rest of your years, afterwards, wishing you could do anything to go back. Oh, and whilst we are on the topic, don’t even think about moaning because you’re still in education. Seriously. You’ll be so happy, there’s no point trying so hard to find those things that make you feel anything less. I understand the work may get too much and you won’t really care about getting good grades, but you’ll be surrounded by the most incredible people every single day who light up your world, it honestly won’t last forever. Spoiler alert: you finish school and move a hundred miles away from them and miss them dearly. So, just be grateful for what you have in the moment!

Secondly, I can assure you that you are on your way to becoming a butterfly. So these awkward looking teenage years won’t last much longer, be patient. Please try and ignore all of those nasty comments about your appearance, I know it’s difficult, but looks do not matter! Your heart is so much more important and that’s where true beauty lies. Teenagers are mean, and they make you feel bad about yourself. Don’t let them. Don’t give them permission to get in your head and make you worry over things you can’t change. Your mind is clean and your body is wonderful. Enjoy these moments because it doesn’t last forever. However, you know that one huge insecurity you have? The one that everyone has to mention all the time and makes you feel awful? Well, let’s just say that good things come to those who wait 😉

But there is one thing I cannot stress enough; your body changes! Be prepared.  Your insecurity changes to the thing you feel confident about now. So although your body and mind-set may be great now, you end up doing something destructible out of fear and it’s so much harder to get out of it. So I want to warn you now, please don’t do it or stop it as soon as you can. It’s not smart. It’s not healthy; to both your body and mind. Don’t let the fear paralyze you. You’re better than that.

And lastly, dear young Ashlea, I want to remind you that nothing lasts forever. If you’re in a bad place you will get through it and if you’re happy, appreciate it. You are a good person with a beautiful heart and mind, in spite of the many times you don’t believe it. You are lovable, smart, optimistic, hopeful and caring. Most of all, you are good enough. Self-love and self-belief is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. I think it’s time we start.

Good luck kid, you’re gonna do great!

Always, Ashlea.

P.S don’t stop dreaming, it’s what makes you who you are. Your blind optimism and ambition is admiring and just between us, it attracts more than you think.

A Letter to July

Dear July,

I’ve made it to twenty and I still can’t believe it. I mean, 20! I’m not a teenager anymore, nor will I ever be again. And as scary as that may seem, I’m actually okay with it. The idea that I will never be as embarrassing and awkward as I used to be, is invigorating and relieving!

Although age is supposed to change you, ironically enough I feel more like my old self than I have in a long time and it could not make me happier. I’ve embraced all that the past few years have taught me but I’m not letting it change my perspective on the world anymore. I’ve learnt that you are what you attract and hating the world and blaming it for everything that goes wrong, doesn’t do you any favours. So here I am, at the age of twenty, trying to have the same hopeful, optimistic outlook on life as I did when I was seventeen. I think there’s beauty and magic in that. So although I am wiser and more curious, wearing rose tinted glasses again is way more fun!

Your 20’s are your selfish years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time – travel, explore, learn, love a lot and never touch the ground.

So July, this is where I start the next adventure, as cliché as it may sound. I feel like this is the start of a new era. A time where my life falls completely in my own hands. There’s no ties, no compromise, no obligations. I have no idea where I’m going but I’m following my heart towards happiness. I am still alive and breathing, I walk this earth with some sort of purpose and I won’t stop until I know what it is.

And now this is where we part ways again. Thank you, July, you’ve brought hope back into my life and helped me remember how powerful and wonderful it is. I feel like I’ve wandered off track for two years but I’ve finally found my way back again.

Here’s to my twenties, where everything is possible!

Always, Ashlea

Dear Loneliness

Dear Loneliness,

So this is what you feel like. I’ve got to give it to you, you’re subtle yet powerful, like an undercover superhero, except you’re not saving me from anything. At first, I didn’t realise it was you, you had me blaming others for the way I was feeling and acting, but now I know it was you all along. I can’t exactly pin point how long you’ve been lingering around me, but I know it’s been far too long. The thing about you, loneliness, is that you come in waves. Nothing for a while and then all at once; one little thing can flood back a million sinking feelings.

Living with you is as unpredictable as English weather. One moment I think I’m fine; I can deal with it, but then overthinking intervenes and dissatisfaction sinks in and then you strike like lightning through my veins, illuminating every inch of unhappiness in my body.  It’s not so much the sadness that comes because I am alone, it’s the fact that you prevent me from making plans. You prevent the hope that I will find happiness again someday. I’m your prisoner trapped and encompassed in your darkness, like I’m the princess locked away in the highest room of the tallest tower. Which then makes you the fire breathing dragon forbidding me from any form of social satisfaction or true happiness.

“I found loneliness,
not through tears and heartache 
but through anger and jealousy.

I lost myself,
not through personal choice
but through hopelessness. 

Nights weren’t the hardest,
those hours you can escape. 
It’s the days when you’re awake.”

But as we have spent more time together and you have dominated my life, I have realised something really important. The thing is, as much as I would love to believe that I could be a princess, a damsel in distress that needs saving, life isn’t like that. There is no prince or knight in shining armour that will appear at my door one day and save me from this nightmare I’ve been living. No one is going to save me, but myself. So I apologise. Maybe I’ve been pointing the fingers hoping that my life would somehow change without me having to try. Maybe I was hoping that life owed me, that it could all just magically amend itself. But I hold my hands up and admit that I was wrong. I thought that you, loneliness, was the thing holding me back from living my life, but I’ve realised that it was me.

 

Always, Ashlea.

 

P.S Thank you. You pushed me to the point of breaking and without you, I wouldn’t have had the courage to make a change, despite all of my fears, and finally break free.