The One Where I Talk About My Plans

Hello, Hello! Happy Tuesday! I am trying to steal a quick minute while Otis is napping and Eleanor is [hopefully] having some quiet time to write a post about my plans. What sort of plans? All sorts of plans actually, but I am going to limit them to the blog specifically for this post.

I am in a really funny season right now. We have moved from Australia, and we’ve been here for about six months. Robbie has had a job now for over a month, and he’s loving it. In the six months we have been here, my mind and heart have been a little all over the place. However, in the last month in particular, I am starting to get a bit more clarity.

This “in-between” can be quite unsettling, lemme-tell-ya! I have felt pretty unsettled at different points, and I really hate that feeling. I think most of us hate that feeling. I am generally a Type-A person, and I love clarity. I love to know what I am doing. I have never thrived in that “in-between”. However, I think it’s really necessary. If we never had the “in-between”, we would never get from Point A to Point B. We wouldn’t grow. Growth requires growing pains, though, and they’re not fun.

So I’m here. I’m in the “in-between”, but I am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I am seeing some new perspective, and I am getting some exciting vision moving forward. Here are some things you can expect to see in this space in the days ahead.

Expect to see more posts.

I have said that, and I have had the best of intentions when saying that in the past. Full disclosure – starting things and finishing them is sometimes a weakness for me, particularly if it is a personal discipline area. It’s something I am acutely aware of, and it’s something I am desperate to grow in and see change. So I am going to say it again, even though I feel like I need more faith in myself to actually believe I will do that. First things first, though, and I am going to communicate my intention and follow it up with commitment and discipline!

Expect to see more honesty.

Whew! That’s one of the things that keeps me from posting. Fear. We are all aware of how vicious the online world can be, and in the past this has stopped me from posting so many posts. I have opinions, just like the next person, that some will agree with and some will not. The ones who don’t agree with me and would potentially be very vocal in their disagreement as we see quite often – those are the ones who have kept me silent. Fear is no leader, though. Fear is the enemy trying to silence us. Trying to convince me that it will be too hard, that people will be too mean, that I am not resilient enough for this. All lies. Another lie I have believed? I don’t have anything to say that’s not already been said. Whoa – that’s a hard one because blogging, photography, a lot of these things I have in my heart to do – the market is decently saturated with them all. However, this is a lie because no one else on this planet is Ashley Willingham. No one else has my experiences or my calling from God or my revelations. More than that, though, I have been reminded on several occasions that this is absolutely worth it and necessary when I’ve received messages or emails from others about how I have helped them in some way. That’s so important to me. That’s why I am doing this.

Expect to see things “under construction.”

I am learning a lot right now about running a business, writing, photography. I am experimenting and playing around with colours and fonts and photos. It may take awhile for the dust to settle and the construction to be complete, but I am not going to wait for everything to be perfect to write. I need to write, and I need to press on towards this call God has put on my heart.

Expect to see womanhood, marriage, motherhood and family.

These are my most important themes that I have on my heart to write about. I hope to be honest and share from a place of vulnerability about these seasons – the good, the hard, the funny. I want to cultivate a community online (and here in Indianapolis) of women who love and serve and honour one another. I want to create a sense of “with-ness” – we are in this together, God is with us, we can do it. I want to write about the beauty and the challenges of being a wife and a mom. They are the two things I’ve wanted to be for my entire life, and here I am, doing it. Some days it is r-o-u-g-h, and some days it is so good that I cannot believe I am this fortunate!


There you have it. I have written these down to serve as a roadmap of where we are going. There is SO much more in the works – in my heart for the future and for this space and community. I will reveal those as they are ready, but for now, I hope you’re encouraged, I hope you laugh, and I hope you feel supported!

Ash

Launching Photography Business, Establishing Routine & Transitions

Hello faithful blog readers! I appreciate that you’ve read over the years, even when it’s been limited to only the monthly update about Eleanor or Otis. I’ve written a blog for about 13 years now, and it’s taken so many shapes over the years. It’s ebbed and flowed as far as how many posts were on each month, as well as with the type of content I have written. As Robbie and I transitioned out of YWAM and moved back to the States, it’s been a j-o-u-r-n-e-y to figure out what I am doing more specifically. I have the broad vision, and I feel confident in that. However, it’s taken a while to figure out the specifics.

One thing that has been a learning curve is figuring out our routine here in the States. For the first several months, we had no routine. Robbie was looking for a job, and he would go work in a cafe on resume/applications/etc. I was trying a few different things over those months. One thing I have felt decently confident in the entire time is to relaunch my photography business. I had anticipated doing it much sooner than I have, but it’s taken a bit of time and sifting through a few other areas first.

My major vision is geared towards family. That’s incredibly broad, and I feel a relative bit of freedom to dream with God as to how that outworks. One area is photography, specifically family photography. Another area, though, is continuing to blog. A challenge for about a year for me has been to determine how I could do both. I didn’t want them to be separated, but I also wanted them to be distinct. Finally I had an epiphany one day, and that is how my main page was created. So if you look at my main page, you will go into either my blog section or my photography section. They come under the same banner, though. I am still sorting out other decisions such as social media and all that jazz, but it will come in time.

Other ways I’m pursuing this vision of family?

I am looking at starting a summer mom’s group here, and I am trying to get out and about for play dates and other things as well. It’s all taking shape, but it hasn’t been without challenge over these 6 months. Yep, 6 months! We’ve been Stateside for 6 months already, and I cannot believe it.

Transition is a tough thing to work through, but I am learning a lot and recognizing areas that I still need to learn and grow in. I’m hopeful for more roots to be planted as we settle into summer and get used to Robbie being at work all day every day.

All that to say, I am hoping to transition this blog (and photography) from hobby to business. I love being home with our kids, but I definitely feel certain I am meant to pursue work as well. This seems like the best of both worlds for me right now. I’m also still selling Plexus products, but that is more on the side for now.

Let me know in the comments what your favourite posts are that I have done in the past. From analytics, it seems that all things motherhood and family tend to get the most movement. Is that what you like? Also, I do feel a strong nudge from God to write more vulnerably, particularly about our transition. I remember before we moved feeling like there wasn’t much written out there about transition, even though it’s something that most, if not all, of us will go through at least once in our lives. It’s tricky to navigate, and I am still in it. I hope to write more about that in the future as well.

Finally, again I appreciate that you read. Over the past four years in particular, I have received messages of encouragement from people who have appreciated my posts and sharing about my life, particularly with motherhood. I always have to keep that at the forefront of my mind. Even though sometimes it feels like I am writing to process things or record memories for myself, I want the main priority to be others. How can I stand with others, encourage others, be vulnerable to communicate “I’m with you” or “Me too!” That’s my heart. Can’t wait to see how it all takes shape!

Seven Months With Otis

Someone recently made a comment to me about the fact that Otis was six months now, and as I thought about it for a minute, I realized that he was actually only a few days from seven months! This past month has been so fun with Otis. I feel like I remember around this time with Eleanor and how her personality really came alive. We are experiencing that with Otis right now, and I sort of feel like this is when the fun really gets started!

When I took his seven month photos the other day, he was laughing in half of them, and most of those laughs were in response to his goofy big sister. I love their little relationship, and I hope it continues to be so sweet.

Highlights & Milestones

One milestone for Otis is that he is not just doing one little roll from back to belly or belly to back anymore. I will put him down in one spot, and then five minutes later, he will be in a totally different spot, ten feet away. He rolls and rolls and rolls. He has also started the infamous “planking” that Eleanor did, and you can see the wheels spinning, trying to figure out how to really move. I’m sure he’ll be chasing Eleanor around in no time, and we will have to really think through any areas that need to be childproofed.

He started eating solids regularly this past month, and I’ll normally give him some for lunch and dinner. He LOVES pretty much any fruit I’ve given him, and his favorite things seems to be when I mix apples, pears and plums with a bit of rice cereal. He’s not so sure about peas and definitely doesn’t like avocado. The faces he makes when he doesn’t like a food are priceless. Other food things – he started attempting to drink out of a little sippy cup, and he also has tried some of those teething crackers. He didn’t like them at first, but now that he’s getting used to the texture, he likes them a lot.

Another highlight this month was a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Willingham! They drove up Easter weekend and stayed with us through the next week. It was so good to have them here, hanging out, and it was particularly special because they were here when Robbie got his job! Otis had lots of smiles for Grandma and Grandpa and enjoyed having them here for the week.

Otis wore his first bowtie for Easter weekend, and he was so cute! I may be biased, but I mean, come on, a little boy in a bowtie is pretty stinking cute! His laugh continued to get louder and all-encompassing, and he also started yelling loudly as a way of communicating. He gets so excited when people make loud noises back with him.

As the weather F-I-N-A-L-L-Y started improving, we were able to go on walks this month, and Otis really loves walking around outside. One of the days, we went to the Zoo for the first time, and he enjoyed all the different things to look at, even though he’s not really aware of the animals yet.

Likes

  • Food – his favorites are definitely fruits (minus bananas), but he’s also started really liking the crackers as well.
  • His jumparoo chair
  • Rolling around the floor with toys
  • Fans (still going strong)
  • People – he LOVES people so much!
  • Being raised up in the air/flying
  • Sleeping on his tummy
  • Sofie, rattles and his o-ball are his favorite toys right now
  • Yelling :)
  • Walks outside
  • Being tickled
  • Chewing on his finger (or anything basically)

Dislikes

  • When you take anything away from him that he’s chewing on (ie a spoon)
  • Avocado, zucchini and baby puffs
  • Food that’s too cold

How Am I Doing?

I just went back to read what I wrote on my last post for Otis as a reference point. A lot can change in a month! The biggest change for me personally this month has been that Robbie got a job and started on April 9. The job thing was a big part of the transition piece for us. Everything was sort of waiting on this piece – routine, budgeting, planning, etc. His job came at the perfect time, and it is an AMAZING job. When I sit and think about it, I am reminded yet again of God’s faithfulness and with-ness. Over the past year or more, many of the things that we were thinking, planning and hoping for this next season have happened as far as this job goes. It’s a great company, it has a great culture, there are amazing opportunities for him to grow and learn but to still use all his experience and wisdom as well, it has great benefits for us as a family. I could go on, but I am so happy for him.

With him getting a job, I was anticipating the adjustment on my end as well. As normal as it is for most of the world, it’s not normal for me to not see Robbie all day, every day. We’ve always worked together. Even when I was primarily at home with kids, I was still on our leadership team and attending meetings throughout the day. Plus the fact that we lived next door to our work made a big difference – he could come home throughout the day if he needed, and I could go next door. I was excited for us to get into a routine and to feel out this new normal, but if I am being honest, I was nervous, too. It has gone pretty well so far, though, and I am learning our rhythms here. There are still a few areas I want to sort out better, and thankfully, the weather is allowing us to get out a little more, which I find really helps for all of us.

Overall, I am doing… ok. I have hesitated admitting that online so far, but I am learning that I need to be honest and open. I am grateful for so many things, I have learned a lot and I am excited for all God’s done in this season. However, there are hard aspects of this transition, and I am learning to be ok with admitting that. A few things have changed in my day-to-day, so I am planning to write a bit more about my transition. I needed a bit more schedule/routine/time and a LOT more courage to do this, but I know it’s worth it and something I feel God speaking to me about. Be on the lookout for that :)

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