Helpful Articles

Personal Values Are The Key To Living Live At Your Full Potential

As you may or may not know at this point, I believe that identifying your personal values and living by these is very important?  If you missed my article on how to define your own personal values, go and read that and do the activity first; See Blog Post Titled: How To Define Personal Values and Live A Life You Are Proud Of.

After you have done the work of defining your personal values it is time to start living these personal values.  What does that mean and what does it look like?  It means making choices everyday that are inline with your values.  Values are different from goals and those are important too but that’s for another day.  Living your values supports your work toward you goals but it also supports you in just being you.  When you live a life that is synonymous with what your personal values are you set yourself up for success to reach your goals. 

Often times women tell me that they are not feeling themselves, they are doing all the regular day to day tasks but something is off, and they can’t put their finger on it or maybe they can but they don’t know how to change it because they are “doing everything right”.  This is usually a good time to assess values and see if they are in line with the life they are living. 

As ladies we tend to wear a lot of hats and often one or more of these hats is a caretaker of others.  When we put others first, when we care about what others think more then what we think we are usually living by values that are important to them or at vary least are not our own.  We have all been there and in different seasons of life, i.e. when you have a new born, it is appropriate to give more of yourself as they need a lot of care.  But no matter what, no matter what season of life you are in it is imperative to your mental health to take time for yourself and engage in things that bring you joy and are important to you.  Let me say that again, NO MATTER WHAT SEASON OF LIFE YOU ARE IN IT IS IMPARATIVE TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH TO TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF AND ENGAGE IN THINGS THAT BRING YOU JOY AND ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU!  Yes, I was yelling there but not because I’m angry because it is so important and I want to make sure you heard it.  We are the easiest person in our lives to put last.  If we prioritize ourselves others may whine, complain, make snarky comments, or worse but if we put ourselves last, we just suck it up and keep going.  This is not ok. 

Moving on from my tangent, how does this all apply to living your personal values.  The situations I described above are most often when people come to see me and ask for support.  This is when people feel out of sorts, when they are putting others first and not prioritizing their values and they feel overwhelmed and mentally drained.  If we live by others’ values or the values that we “should have” because others have them we are not honoring our true selves and this is where the trouble starts.  Imagine living a life with a partner or housemate that doesn’t like you and judges everything that you do.  Every choice you make or every choice you make in a certain area of life is judged and you are told that you are wrong.  Over time this is overwhelming and exhausting.  This is exactly what is happening, but this judgement is not coming from others it is coming from ourselves.  We are judging the choices we make because we are not honoring our personal values or not living them in our daily lives.  Before you think the easy solution is to just start living the values of others or the values you “should have”, stop, this is actually the problem.  When we live others values we are not honoring what is important to us.

When we make choices that are inline with others values and not our own we often feel remorseful afterward.  We either beat ourselves up for making the choice or we get angry at others and spiteful.  When we make a decision that is not inline with our values we feel guilty, judge ourselves, label ourselves and wrong, or put ourselves down and call ourselves names.  Over time we do this so much that we start to believe the things we are saying about ourselves.  This is when people often start to experience anxiety about their ability to make decisions and remorse about the past decision they have made.  This is overwhelming.

What is the solution?  The solution is to do the work of identifying your personal values and start living them daily.  There are several things that will help you with this. 

-Leave notes for yourself, set reminders on your phone, make a sign or art for your office or home, or write them on your mirror.  Read these reminders to yourself daily.  Reading and seeing your personal values all around you will remind you who you are striving to be and what is importing to you.  It will help you make decisions through out the day that align with your personal values. 

-Learn to say no to others.  Saying no and setting boundaries with others that do not have the same values as you or don’t agree with your values is important.  Practicing vocalizing your decisions based on your values can help you with that.  Saying no to your neighbor Bonnie who wants you to host the neighborhood garage sale because you know it will be a lot of work and take time away from your family when “Family” is one of your personal values is important.  Try saying, “Thanks for thinking of me Bonnie but family time is very important to me doing that would take away from that time we have together as a family.  I won’t be able to host this year.”  Who can argue with that?  I doubt Bonnie is going to say, “Your family is awful.  Why would you want to spend time with them?”

-Evaluate the choices you made through the day.  Not in a Judgy McJudgerton kind of way but in a warm, accepting, focused on growth kind of way.  Thinking about how you would like to do something differently next time is a great way to get your brain practicing this way of thinking and making decisions. 

Changing the way we make decisions and new ways of thinking is hard.  Be kind to yourself when it doesn’t go quite how you want it to the first time.  Pick yourself up and keep going.  The only way to get better at something is by practicing how you want to do it over and over and over and over again. 

What are your personal values and how did you practice living them today?  

How To Define Personal Values and Live A Life You Are Proud Of.

Values are defined as something (such as a principle or quality) that is intrinsically desirable.  That means our personal values are a principle or quality that is desirable and essential to our nature and our being.  Deep right?  Well bear with me it seems intense, and it is, but identifying and living by your personal values can be so powerful and freeing that it will blow you away.

There are millions of lists of varying lengths available on-line describing potential values, I am sure there are even on-line quizzes out there too.  These can be a good starting place.  I will attach a list below that I like to use because it is all inclusive.  It is long and can seem overwhelming, but I will walk you though that also. 

To start look at the list, I highly suggest printing it off.  I think this is the best way to go because you can mark on it and cross things off as you go.  Read the words, out loud preferably, and feel if they fit.  It they are totally wrong cross them off, if the word fits perfect circle it, if you are unsure just leave it for now.  Don’t over think this step just do what feels right. Then go through it again.  As you narrow it down feel free to take breaks from the list and come back to it to explore what feels right for you.  It is important to focus on what feels right for you, not your best friend or that girl at the gym you want to be like, or you mother-in-law, but YOU.  I know this can be a difficult task when most of use spend our day focusing on what other people want and taking care of others, but it is important to focus on just you and what is important to you.  As you narrow down the list take some time to think about what each word means and would look like for you to live out in your life.  Take honesty for example, this means being truthful, sticking to facts, being fair, and straightforward in your interactions with the world.  You could explore what living in an honest ways would look like in your life, you could also explore what expecting others in your life to be honest would look like for you.  As you are working through this list I encourage you to narrow it down to 5-10 of the most important values for you.    

After you have narrowed down the list to your 5-10 personal values I want you to sit with what you have selected for a few days and practice living them.  What does living your personal values mean?  It means making choices through out your day that reflect these values and setting boundaries with others who do not respect these values. Living your personal values can help align you with the person you want to be and bring you one step closer to living a life you are proud of.  As you practice living these values it is helpful to surround yourself with the values you have chosen.  I find it helpful to set events on my phone calendar with my personal values and an alert that goes off at the same time each day.  I set one in the morning as I am starting my work day with values I hold that are motivating and driving for my work mind and I set another for the end of my work day as I transition in to my home life role with values that focus me on the type of wife and parent I want to be.  Getting these reminders daily helps me focus on who I am and what is important to me.  You could also choose to leave yourself notes around the house, on you desk at work, or in your car that remind you of your values.  Or if you enjoy being creative you could make something that reminds you of your values such as a college or pictures.  The point is not how you do it but that you do it. Surrounding yourself with the personal values can support you in making decisions that are inline with these values.

In my next article I will talk you though why it is so important to identify and live your values and what happens when people don’t live in line with their values. 

I encourage you to print off the list below and start working toward defining your personal values.  What are your values and how are you living them each day?

Yoga Retreat, Sister Style

Last month I received a wonderful surprise from my sister and my husband; a plane ticket to visit my sister and a weekend yoga retreat! Let me tell you this was the best surprise ever! I got to spend the whole weekend with my sister and attend a Self Love yoga retreat at Wildflower Society in Lakeside, Montana. The weekend was much needed time with my sister. I was not as excited about the holiday season as I have been in the past, I felt something was missing without my sister coming home for Christmas so this time together was just what I needed.

We had such a WONDERFUL weekend! There was a lot of talking, smiles, laughter, and some tears. The retreat was hosted by Coty Austin who is the owner of Wildflower Society. She did a wonderful job incorporating different self reflection activities and art projects along with the yoga to round out the retreat and honor the Self Love theme. We did journaling and also a prayer flag activity to express our creative side.

This whole weekend and experience was one for the memory books. My sister and I used to prioritize sister days a couple times a year when we lived closer where we would get together for the whole day and do what ever we wanted. These days always included some fun activities such as hikes, laughter yoga, antique shopping, fajitas and margaritas and most importantly time together. Now that we live in different states we have to be more intentional in scheduling this time together and this was a good reminder of how important it is.

I am so grateful to have been able to experience this with my sister and have that special time together. Thank you to my husband, my sister and Coty for the wonderful week to recharge and re-center.

Coty has a beautiful location for her studio! Check out that view of the mountains from the windows in the studio. And below is the inside of the studio. Next time you are in Montana, look her up and attend a yoga class or a retreat. Her website is;

Do you even self care Bro?

Self care, self care, blah, blah, blah.  This is how people usually react when I ask about their self care and time they spend investing in themselves.  I get it, it is talked about a lot and usually gets misunderstood as pampering yourself which turns some people off.  Although pedicures and facials may be your thing that is not what self care is exactly. 

The definition of self care that I use is; filling your cup up so you can have the energy and mental capacity to work toward your goals and take care of others.  Because let’s face it as women we are constantly being pulled in a million different directions and asked to do the work on 3 people in 1 days time.  The reality is that you have to be purposeful about scheduling in self care so you actually do it or it will easily fall by the way side.  I know this time of year it is especially hard to schedule in self care with the extra demands that the holidays put on your already overflowing plate but that makes it even more important to do.

So if self care is; filling your cup up so you can have the energy and mental capacity to take action on your goals and take care of others, how do you do this?  That is the thing, for everyone the answer is different.  For me it is down time, quite time with myself and my thoughts, reading, sipping coffee and just breathing in the quiet.  For my husband it is being around lots of friends and family and doing activities and going to events that bring him joy.  Clearly, we have to be mindful at our house to schedule in time for each of us to be able to fill up our cups to be there for each other and as parents. 

What fills your cup, what is your form of self care?  Think of things that give you energy, things that make you feel ready to take on the day or hard experiences or things that give you that “ahh” relaxed feeling.  It can be pedicures, it can be hiking, it can be running marathons or 5Ks, it can be reading historical romance novels, it can be going on vacation, it can be volunteering, the list goes on.  The important things to consider when you are figuring out what is the right type of self care for you is making sure it is only for you, not for anyone else, and that it makes you feel energized and ready to take on the world.

The next and most important step is scheduling self care time in.  This is important because we can easily put ourselves last or skip this time but this just sucks that energy out of our lives eventually draining us and putting us in constant catch up mode.  When you try to run on empty and are constantly in catch up mode you are always stressed out and irritable.  You are never able to reach those goals you have been thinking about or making steps toward because you are constantly playing catch up.  Make yourself a priority and be creative with your time so it can be scheduled in.  If you really want to you will find a way, if you don’t you will find an excuse.  Stop making excuses to yourself and commit to your own self care.

Start today.  Explore what you need to do for self care and start scheduling that in your schedule first, not last.  I can’t wait to hear about the impact this small change can make on your daily life!

Don’t Keep Losing Your S!*T, Increase Your Patience.

Patience, oh Patience.  Some people believe this is a trait we are either born with or not or something we are either good at or not.  This is a hopeless belief and shines a dim light on the human race, can you imagine if we all walked around reacting to things like my 3 year old when he is tired and processed sugar is coursing through his veins (Because Halloween!) it would be the end of humanity if we all acted like this.  I believe that patience is something we can strengthen and get better at every day.

Patience is described as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry our upset.  Strengthening or growing my capacity to be patient is something that I work on each day.  Some moments are harder then others and some moments are completely fleeting and I lose my s!*T faster then I can realized what is going on.  But other moments I can take a deep breath and work through the situation no matter what it throws at me.  So why do we experience this difference in being able to keep it together and work through it or lose our s!*T.

There are many factors that can influence our capacity to be patient; amount of sleep, quality of food we are fueling our body with, level of stress and overwhelm, type of situation, amount of patience that have already been used for the day, amount of self-care that is engaged in, level of insight in to triggers, and the list goes on.  Some of these factors are in our control like making sure we get enough sleep, but others are out of our control.  Also, some of these factors may affect one person greater then another person.  With all these factors to consider it might seem overwhelming and hopeless that you can ever increase your patience and stop losing your s!*T.  But you can and here is how!!

Practice.  Practice. Practice.  I know boring right!  If you were looking for a quick fix this is not it but the good news is that it gets easier over time.  There are some basic first steps to make sure you are starting in the right place and those includes getting enough sleep, fueling your body with quality food, and getting regular physical movement.  After these things there are other steps that you can take to improve your patience.

Identify the feeling without attaching to it.

This means identifying and acknowledging the feeling that is causing the discomfort and labeling it, maybe even out loud.  By labeling the feeling it will help you to understand what is going on with your cognitive brain and not just your emotional center.  The next step is not attaching to this feeling.  This is the part that trips people up.  Sometimes you assume that the emotions you have are you and you label them good or bad.  This is not the case you are not your emotions, they are just reactions to moments in time and they are neither good nor bad, they are just telling you something.  Listen.

Change your perspective and rewrite your script.

After you identify the emotion and label it you get a change to change your perspective on it.  You are not a failure because you feel overwhelmed with managing your job, you kids schedules, keep the house clean, and cook wholesome meals.  You are doing the best you can with the time you have and maybe it is time to sit down and explore how you can reprioritize or ask for support.  This is challenging your inner critic by rewriting the story it is telling you and giving yourself some grace.  It is also hearing the criticism and using it to work through the barrier or explore alternative options.

Just breath and take some time for self-care.

Slow down and breath.  Sometimes just allowing yourself to take a deep breath will slow you down enough to be able to focus your reaction and redirect the emotions.  Allow yourself some space to take care of you so you have the capacity to have patience with others.  Do something that fills you up, gives you joy, and focuses you on enjoying that moment.  This is self care.  Everyone is different and the key is finding something that works for you and do it regularly.

Identify what you are grateful for.

While you are in a situation that is testing your patience it can be a really great time to remind yourself what you are grateful for in the situation or in the person.  This can break through the negative feelings and put you in a more positive mindset instantly.

It may seem odd that that I wrote this and attached a picture of my dog but let me tell you he is the perfect opportunity for me to practice patience everyday!  He is almost 13 years old and along with issues of aging he is also often a real JERK.  He has been this way for a long time and only really wants to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it and on no other terms.  Ever since I started looking at his behavior as an opportunity to practice patience it has improved our relationship and the negative feelings I have toward him.  He is still a JERK a lot of the time but I just take a deep breath and practice gratitude and smile and we usually get through it.

There is hope you can increase your patience in the world one situation at a time.  I believe in you!  You got this!  Start today growing your patience.  You will feel better and everyone in your world will react better to you when you are not losing your s!*T all the time!

Love, Ashley

Put an End to Solo Pity Parties and Blaming Others

Things that are happening in your life may not be your fault but they ARE your responsibility.  This is a hard pill to swallow sometimes and a lot of people want to run the other way or do something, anything, else to distract themselves from taking on this responsibility and dealing with it head on.  But none of these decisions will resolve the issues or change the things that are happening to you.  It is your responsibility to face these things head on and take 100% full responsibility so you are able to take ownership over the outcomes. 

In a world where people are quick blame others or have pity on themselves for negative things happening in their lives taking responsibility is often the least favorable choice.   But think about it, if you blame someone else or have a pity party that only you are attending how is this going to make you feel.  Worse!  When we blame someone else or throw a solo pity party we feel worse because it actually supports our notion that it is out of our control and we can do nothing about these negative things that are happening in our lives.  On the contrary, if we take full responsibility for these negative things we have full control over the outcomes.  This feels much more empowering and gives us forward momentum to make change. 

I know what you are thinking, but Ashley it was not my fault, why do I have to take responsibility?!?!  Hear me out.  Lets use the example of your mediocre job.  You hate it, you dread going everyday, and have to will yourself out of bed each morning.  When you do make it in to the office, late as usual, you spend most of your day counting down the time until you get to leave and day dreaming about all your fantasy job and your next vacation.  When asked about work you make comments like, “My boss still sucks”, “My coworkers can’t even do their jobs right”, “I am constantly amazed at how upper management treats us so poorly when we bring in all the money to keep this company a float”.  Blah Blah Blah!!  The work environment as a whole is not your fault but it is your responsibility to make changes.  You can make changes in your outlook, you level of production, and your engagement at the office.  You can also look for a new job or go back to school.  But be warned that the grass is not always greener on the other side, it is greener where you water it.  So taking the time and exerting the energy to water the grass at your current job might be the best way to improve your situation.  Regardless of what choices you make it is your responsibility to make these choices and take action.

I know that this problem may not fit for all of you but there are steps to every problem, sometimes you just need to look deep, get creative, and accept that you might have to do things that you don’t want to do to resolve the problem.  I challenge you to look at your life right now and identify something that you have been choosing to ignore or put on the back burner and choose right now to take 100% responsibility for it.  What action can you take right now to start working on the issue or moving toward your desired outcome? 

Love, Ashley

Does Therapy Work?

I am a therapist, what do you think I do?  You sought me out, you came to my office, and you stated you wanted to reduce your worries, your sadness, or make changes in your life.  Now you are sitting in front of me talking about all the “bad therapists” you have had in your life and how “therapy has never been helpful”.  In the same conversation when I asked what steps you have taken, what tools you have used you can not tell me or you give me vague answers and skirt around the question.  I say, “I can not solve this for you.”  You look surprised, stunned actually that I am saying this.  But I don’t know what else to say other then you are the only person that can change your problems and work toward your goals.  Yes, I think therapy can be very helpful in working on these problems and barriers however people need to be open and willing to do the work and hear the hard observations to be successful in therapy.

If you are wanting to work toward your goals or change something in you life please seek out a therapist, but also know that you have to the work.  Just showing up each week and “talking” is not going to do this for you.  There must be action involved.  The therapist can and should help you identify the action steps or new tools to use but you alone can actually take the action.

What will help you be successful in therapy?

-Find a therapist that you can talk to and feel comfortable being open and honest with.  (It is ok if this takes a while, not everyone will be your jam, that is ok! Find someone who is.) (Just make sure you are being honest with yourself and not ending a therapy relationship just because it got hard or they called you out on your crap.)

BE open and honest with the therapist.  Share it all, don’t sugar coat it, don’t let shame or fear get in the way just share.  Talk about the hard stuff.

-Actually do what the therapist suggests!  I don’t mean try it twice and chalk it up to another thing that doesn’t work.  I mean actually doing it, over and over again, even when, especially when, it gets hard.  Making it a new habit in your life takes time and consistent effort.

-Attend sessions as recommended.  Consistency is so important in making changes because as humans we are creatures of habit, if we stop making changes we will go right back in to our old ways.

Therapy should be hard work.   Working toward goals, making changes in our behaviors and patterns of thinking is very hard work, it is not easy.  But the thing is, time is going to pass anyways.  Spend your time wisely and do the work, make the progress.  Your future self will thank you.

Love, Ashley

How Can Living Mindfully Whole Help You be Your Best Self

How Can Living Mindfully Whole Help You be Your Best Self

Living Mindfully Whole means living your fullest life and being present in as many moments as possible.  Big emphasis on “YOUR fullest life” because no two people are fulfilled in the same way.  You are responsible for finding what gives you energy and pursuing it.  I know you are feeling overwhelmed and stuck without a idea how to start making changes.  This is where the idea of Living Mindfully Whole came from. This is a place where you can find support and get encouragement in defining your best life and the courage to start living it everyday.