Well now, would you look at that, it seems I have made it to another blogging milestone. Got a shiny new badge telling me that Earth to Ash has reached 100 posts, I know it’s probably only a drop in the bucket for many, but for me it comes as quite the accomplishment. That’s a lot of time, a lot of creativity, and a lot of me. Just about two years ago or so, I was tossing around the idea of a creating this blog and here I am 100 posts deep into this journey of mine…crazy. The thoughts, feelings, and reactions that I would normally just keep in my journal, were now for the world to read and I am so glad that I held my nose and jumped right in.
Once I received the 100 post milestone I took a look back at some of my older entries, the good, the bad, and the ugly, it was fun seeing the evolution of Earth to Ash from way back to its birth to what it is today. I am still very much green to this process but I’m learning each time I hit publish. I’m am fortunate to have met some great bloggers out there who I appreciate as fellow writers and more importantly as friends. There is a huge sense of community here on WordPress and I have to give a shout out to those who have helped me along the way. Thanks again for sharing your appreciation for my writing and thanks for the guidance and support that you have given me up to this point and hopefully beyond. I want to also thank all the rest, the non-bloggers, the silent passer-by’s who read my stuff on a regular basis, thank you for your readership and for coming back post after post.
OK, so I promised myself I wouldn’t rabble on with this entry, I just wanted to take a sec and acknowledge reaching a goal such as this. I intend on knocking out a few more goals this year in 2018, not only with my writing, but also with my life in general, I’m excited to see what’s on the horizon. The evolution of Earth to Ash is still in its infancy, so who knows where things will go next but when it comes to achieving goals, just remember that it’s not where you have been but rather it’s where you’re going.
Oh hi, remember me? Yeah, I know…it’s been awhile. I had to pretty much force myself to take some time and write, I’ve coined it “force-writing”. I was hoping the Christmas season would bring me more material that I could keep up with, especially how reminiscent I tend to be, but it just wasn’t the case. Though, there were a few times while relaxing with a festive drink in hand and wearing my ugly sweater, I would get all inspired only to switch gears and start googling Christmas movies. I can admit now that I got caught in a bit of a holiday funk and each time I felt prompted to write, I allowed myself to get easily distracted. So, now that we are about to be heaved into a new year, there’s no better time to kick things off and get back on track.
I hope all of you have enjoyed a great holiday season along with a wonderful new year, safe, sound, and with the people you love. All the parking lot tetris, long line-up grief, and that grinchy scowl you received when both those carts wouldn’t clear that aisle are all but distant memories. Christmas is a wrap! (see what I did there) Another holiday season a success, and before you can enjoy that for a second, it’s January 1, 2018, a new year…now what?
Well, now we all get to slowly start moving back toward our regular lives, back to the old routine, shoot me now. But, before we do, New Year’s gives us that last bit of holiday vacation bliss and also the perfect opportunity to reflect. The good, the bad, the happy, and the sad too, all 2017 in account while we set or sights on 2018. Oh yeah, you also get one last chance to stay in your pj’s all day.
I am going to consider this post another successful “force write” session, seems like the juices are flowing again, the Christmas block has passed, your patience very appreciated. With this momentum, I intend to make 2018 a big year for Earth to Ash, I had a huge 2016. I would have never expected this blog to be where it’s at today, so far, so fast, thanks again for being a big part of it.
I received a text from my father a couple of weeks ago, you may be thinking, yeah…so what? Well, the “what” is the fact that I have not spoken to this man in more than twenty two years, we had a falling out a very long time ago. There’s more to that story but I won’t get into that now as it is of a private nature. What I would like to talk about is the fallout that ensues when family or friends choose not continue their relationships with another. No matter what the reason may be and no matter what the dynamic, losing that connection with someone can be hard and this time of year it can be really hard.
You know, I have tried on many occasions to fix things with my father, each effort took a piece of me, especially around the holidays. As I got older and with each passing year, I was able to put things in a better perspective. I had grown up and now I was able to see things differently and quite frankly, I was fed up with being hurt. So about fifteen years ago, at Christmas, I made one last ditch effort and wrote a letter. It was a peace offering, an olive branch as it were, it was do or die for our relationship and I was prepared either way.
Well, a few days into the holidays, unfortunately, my letter was met with the response that I was expecting all along and at that very moment I didn’t feel sad, I actually felt free. Something inside me was lifted off my shoulders, no more did I allow the chains of hurt drag me down any longer. Christmas from then on would never again have an asterisk by it, yes it was indeed another year without a father, but it was also another year surrounded by so many others that were there and have been from the start. That experience really opened my eyes and certainly my heart to all that unconditional love that was already right there in front of me though I was too consumed by what was not.
I guess what I’m trying say, is that at Christmas, we can all get a little sentimental as we take stock of where we are in our lives. Personal inventory of who we love, who we miss, and who we’ve lost along the way. Time is precious and there’s no way to go back and change things like we would want to, therefore, we have to take advantage the time we do have. Turns out that text from my father was just him reaching out for something that he needed and not some “oh my god, it’s my dad” moment, so I completely ignored his request and as I mentioned above I just moved on.
In closing, I hope that after you read this post, you will take the time to reach out to those who you love or miss loving. Maybe someone you’ve lost contact with, an old colleague you keep changing plans with, or more importantly, that special someone, to tell them that their somebody who really matters to you. Mend those old fences, fix it if it’s broken or simply just go ahead and tell those in your life that they are loved. It may be fact that Christmas comes but only once a year, just realize though, your love can go on forever…
Now go hug somebody will ya?
I had a conversation yesterday with a colleague of mine and we were discussing Christmas traditions and the role they play in making the holidays special. As per Google, “Traditions” are the transmission of customs or beliefs passed down from generation to generation. Like me I’m sure, most of you are familiar with these annual festive rituals, and also like me, they most likely started when you were a kid. It’s something each year, that has to absolutely happen in order for you to say it was a Merry Christmas. They become more and more necessary, helping recreate those nostalgic feelings that we’ve all become so attached to. One example of that is being home for Christmas, there’s something about being home for the holidays. The memories of being home with your family and friends are memories that will last for the rest of you life.
My grandparents passed away some time ago and I used to have a hard time with the fact that Christmas would now become different. So different that I felt like the holidays would never have the same feeling anymore, like I would never be as happy. The tradition of going home and spending time with the family at my grandparents’ house, my house, where I was raised would become just a memory. Forced to turn the page on that chapter of my life and say goodbye to something that was so dear to my heart was very hard for me. The house was sold, family slowly drifted apart and we all began to move on. Yeah, for many years following I struggled, holding some resentment that the nucleus of the family were no longer the highlight of such a celebrated time of year. It made me mad, upset for sure, but mostly, it left me with a void that I felt would never be filled again…until.
Until one time, a Christmas or two ago, I was sitting around reminiscing, and dwelling on what was missing. Then something spoke to me, even to this day I say it was my grandmother herself. Like a real life scrooge moment, I heard her gentle voice, her soft whisper fell upon my ears, she told me that it was not like me to be feeling the way that I was. She knew me better than anyone else on this planet and she was upset that I gotten lost in the past, mad that I was being so stubborn. “Enough of that” she said, and just as she had for my entire life she consoled me with her words… “Places don’t make memories Ash, people do”.
After that, I started to look at this time of year differently. It made me understand that thinking that way was only hurting me, and ultimately hurting the people around me. Sometimes we have to leave the people we care for behind, sometimes people we care for have to leave us, but what we have to remember is that our heart is a very big place. It’s big enough to hold as much love as you can imagine, and extra big during the holidays. Christmas is not about what you don’t have, but it’s more of what you do have. Take those traditions of the past and share them with your present, there may be a chair or two empty at the dining room table but no matter what you’ll always have plenty of room in your heart.
So the people have spoken, the votes have been tabulated, and whatever “manopause” I was going through must of has ran its course, because I am back slapping keys. Thank you in every language because you awesome men and women have overwhelmingly convinced me that I should continue this journey of mine and keep on writing. Started to get a little fuzzy there, going through a phase I guess, I was at a blogging low and needed a pick me up. Fist pump to my fellow bloggers who chimed in with your comments and support, all your props helped keep me from throwing in the towel, trust me.
I’m sorry as I probably sound like a broken record by now, wrote a bunch about this, but once again I admit, writing is tough. It takes dedication, loads of your time and creativity steroids. I threw out my lure looking for a thought or two, maybe some convincing feedback, and ultimately an answer to my query. I got all of the above, thanks for pulling me back in and helping me through a growing pain of becoming a blogger. None of this would be possible without you, and without the blast of followers I have gotten since that post.
Those of you out there that are going through the same creative tug-of-war as I just did, let me say this, don’t give up, take some time, cool off, reevaluate. This medium can sometimes become all consuming, that’s when we need to take a step back and get reacquainted with made us start all this in the first place. I started because I love writing, I can’t forget that because when I do, I start to hits walls creatively. During that process though, it’s pretty awesome and reassuring knowing your readers have your back. I foresee 2018 as another great year for Earth to Ash, I have taken notes and I’m getting excited to see what comes next. I’m always looking for new ways to keep you all entertained forever trying to Russel up stories….sorry it was right there.
OK, OK, enough out me for now, so…to recap, I am here to write another day, you should never give up on your dreams, Matt Lauer got fired…. and alllll of you are awesome.
Hear ye, hear ye,
This meeting is now in order, who wants to go first? OK I’ll start, “Hello everybody, my name is Ashley Douglas and I am in fact a guy”. I’ve had this post tucked away as a draft when something today pushed me to finally post it. I went to my pharmacy a few weeks ago to fill a prescription, the script was going to be awhile so I decided to stick around and browse the store. I went up and down the aisles wasting time, having a look at this, picking up that, taking it all in. Finally, after grabbing a few items and figuring enough time had lapsed, I went to the cash to pay. I laid my items on the counter and proceeded to hand the clerk my store discount card, she took a quick look at the back of the card, back up to me, back to the card, now me again. Then, she hit me with it. She casually looked up with a smile and asked “Excuse me sir, you wouldn’t happen to have a card that has your name on it would you?”.
Yesss, yeah…yup, I am still getting the mix-up to this day, no biggie though, I’m used to it, it’s become quite the conversation piece over the years for sure. Most times, I usually respond with “why yes, the operation was a complete success”, and more often than not, it ends with a chuckle. My name is Ashley but I go by Ash, I like it better, pretty much everyone calls me that anyway, and it kind of puts a more masculine spin on the name, in theory. It’s true, I have gone to the doctor and literally had a receptionist call my name whilst looking over my shoulder as I am walking straight for her trying to make eye contact. It’s hilarious, you wouldn’t believe some of the predicaments I find myself in with this name of mine.
Like I was saying, I posted this because just today, I received correspondence at work that was addressed to Ms. Douglas and it reminded me of the pharmacy. Then it got me thinking about all the other guys that suffer the same fate with names. Sorry Terry, I feel your pain Stacey, and Lesley…right back at ya man. So many unisex names I should definitely start a support group. Oh and a shout out to you women, same drill I imagine with some of your names. All that said, and if given the chance, I still would never change my name, not for anything. I give my name a lot of slack, but deep down, I love it, it makes me, me. Have you ever been told by a parent of a name they also thought of, not you right? Sounds weird, and it just doesn’t seem to fit.
In the end, I will continue to get the odd Ms. on a letter, I will continue to get asked “is that your real name” and I will still continue to get a huge assortment of beauty samples in the mail-yes, that too. All this is bound to continue to happen when it comes to my name, it’s funny you know, how all of that can make something so unique out something so common.
At the end of the day, I’ll take a little unique.
I have been doing a lot of soul searching as of late and I am contemplating walking away from writing, I have been battling with this thought of calling it quits. When I do, I feel immediate sadness, but at the same time relief, so many emotions bouncing around my heart and soul. Writing for me has had peaks and valleys, it seems that I have so many readers that enjoy what I write, but at the same time I feel empty and unsatisfied. I truly can’t explain it, so my plea to you my readers, is this.
Do you enjoy my blog? Does it make you come back for more? If so, what is it that you like, can I evolve? Maybe it’s not broken? I have found myself at a crossroads and now I am faced with a decision of what path I should take. I’m sure, most of you have gathered that I like to overthink everything in my life, it’s probably a fault. I just sometimes need reassurance that my goals are being meet and in the virtual world it’s hard to get a straight answer.
I wrote a response to my readers some time ago, thanking each and every one of you for supporting me up to this point but again, this was a message in a bottle statement. We live in a world where we look for instant approval, some kind of return, some indication that there are those out there that are listening. Maybe there are some of you that absorb what I write and use it in some sort of way that to hear, would be incredibly humbling. Maybe what I write are just words on a screen that are swiped away without a second thought, oh woe is me.
So, I leave you to ponder, as I do with this journey of mine own, much like life we roll with the punches and hope it all works out in the end. I don’t know how each and every one of you feel about some random guy, bleeding his thoughts through a series of key strokes, but what I do know is that I am forever grateful that you have given me a chance.
Thanks my friends, until next time???