Hello Again

Hello again! It’s been about a year and a half since I have written in this space. A lot has happened since I last wrote. A lot. I have been thinking so much about picking this space back up over the last several months. The last several months that in many ways have felt like years.

When I last wrote, we were a year into our move back to the US. Since then…

  • My Dad underwent treatment for his cancer, and he beat it! He’s gotten stronger every day since.
  • I started (and have nearly finished) nursing school. I have met some of my best friends. I have developed a passion for science and understanding the body and especially a renewed passion for maternal health…
  • I got offered my first RN job in the Labor & Delivery Unit at Methodist/Riley. Surreal. Grateful.
  • We have done countless projects and renovations to our house since that initial blitz I wrote about last.
  • We celebrated 7 and 8 years of marriage.
  • Otis went to daycare for the first time and loved it.
  • Eleanor finished preschool and pre-k, and she is about to start kindergarten!
  • COVID-19 hit globally, and the conflict in my heart and mind as someone entering the healthcare profession is great.

This year has not been expected. Not for anyone.

The other night, Robbie and I were sitting on our (newly renovated) back deck and chatting. I said to him, “This year has been awful in many ways in the world, but this year is huge. This year I am becoming a nurse, and this year cannot end awful…at least not inside our home.”

With every day that has passed this year, I have thought about deleting social media. In March, at the start of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders in the US, social media did so well. Some Good News by John Krasinksi came out, people were sharing positive stories amidst the uncertainty and pain. There were people cheerleading frontline workers in hospitals and grocery stores. There were fundraisers to help get proper PPE where needed. There were images and graphics offering hope.

Then it kept going.

We got tired.

Now, I log on and quickly feel…sad, defeated, angry, confused, anxious. I don’t feel hope in what I see online hardly anywhere, and that is so sad to me. Our presence online is at least partially reflecting how we are doing as a whole, and in that scenario, we aren’t doing well.

So I want to delete it. I want to close my eyes. I want to stop feeling all those feelings.

However, something is compelling me to stay. Something is pulling me to this place to do my little part to add some good back to all the pain, all the anxiety, all the confusion. (*Note: I do think it is ok and appropriate to get off social media for a time, to unfollow people who only cause you anxiety or overwhelm…there is a time and place for that 100%.)

When I post something online, I often have a little conversation with myself. Whether I am sharing my own photo and caption or want to share someone else’s, I often find myself asking, “Who is this for?” “Why am I sharing this?” “Is this serving my own agenda?” “Will this bring someone joy and hope?” “Or will this bring someone pain, confusion or shame?”

I think sometimes we forget (or minimally underestimate) the power of our presence online. Good or bad. I think we are quick to share without thinking through the ramifications of our sharing.

I won’t be able to change the world, but I do know that in my simple presence online, as small as it may be, I want to bring hope, joy and peace. Our world doesn’t need more pain. It doesn’t need more confusion. It’s e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e right now. Everywhere. We don’t need to bring more to an already overfilled table. What we need to bring is a glass of water, a warm blanket, a box of tissues, an uplifting word or a smile. Let’s bring that.

I hope to write more here, and as much as I have opinions and stances on things, I want to bring hope, joy and peace to this world more than anything.

See ya soon!

The One Where I Started the Whole30 (Again)

Back in 2016, Robbie and I did the Whole30. I wrote a recap here about it all. It was exactly what I needed to really get a kickstart to feeling my best after having Eleanor. She started sleeping through the night, and I was working out regularly. I saw the start of big changes for myself physically, and after I continued working out, getting sleep and eating better, I felt better than I had in years to be honest.

Here I am about 8 months out from having Otis, and I am in need of this kickstart again. My mom is super keen for this as well. Robbie and my Dad – maybe not so excited, but they’re going to join us, too. In February, we aimed to do a Whole30, but I had so many things come up with my teeth (basically a 6-month tooth nightmare that only just got resolved 2 weeks ago!) that it was simply too much for one month. My breastfeeding supply was affected because I wasn’t eating enough, but most things I could eat, hurt my mouth. So we did a “Whole15”.

This month, I am ready for it. We are starting today. We went grocery shopping, and I am excited to feel good.

The Issue With Food

The area of food was one of the biggest areas that I was nervous about in moving back to the US. Australia is not perfect by any means, but in general, I find that they are a bit more focused on fresh, real food. The sizes are way more reasonable as well. I always felt so unhealthy when we would come home for holidays to the States. There are a million and one options for everything at the grocery store, and it was overwhelming to walk into a grocery store compared to Australia. I was also sad about leaving all my good coffee spots in Newie. Ohhhhh Australian coffee, how I miss thee!

I was nervous about this part of our move, but if I am being honest, food has never been a strong suit for me. I have such a sweet tooth, and for so much of my life, I have been an emotional eater. Basically all of that amounted to way too much sugar and unhealthy choices.

Being a mom now brings everything into such a different perspective, and as I look at Eleanor, who also has a sweet tooth, I feel so responsible for instilling in her better habits than I have. I haven’t done great, but I definitely am ready to improve.

“My child will never have sugar!”

What a lovely ideal right? I kept Eleanor away from sugar until her first birthday, and then she got that giant smash cake and all those ideals of a sugar-free childhood smashed with that pink icing. Ok, ok, I am being a bit dramatic.

I think as parents, though, we have this ideal, perfect picture of how we will parent, and often, the sugar thing is one of the main ones. It’s incredibly difficult once they know what sugar is to avoid it, especially in the presence of other little friends. I am not afraid to say “no” to Eleanor, but I also don’t want that to be what she hears the most from me. Striking a balance is a bit of an art – an art I am still working on.

Small Steps Add Up

Small steps are something that I know will make a difference and that should be celebrated. I am naturally an “all-or-nothing” kind of person, though, so sometimes small steps feel too…small. I am really recognising recently the power of those small steps, though, and how they all add up over time. So my small step this month is another Whole30, which isn’t actually a small step per say but it is only a month. Anyone can do anything for a month. At least that’s what Rachel Hollis says, and she’s kind of my girl right now. (Go read Girl, Wash Your Face – it’s so good!)

Here’s to the next 30 days – to better health and better habits!

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!


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