New Year,

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New Bold Me

Hey friend. Thanks for stopping by our little corner of the internet. This is Ash typing. Let's jump on into how I feel about a new year. 

In 2018, I'm not putting up with people's sh*t. And it's starting with me, not others. If 2017 taught me anything profound, it is that life is too short, and I need to stop saying, "I'll do it when XYZ falls into place." I dealt with a lot of heartbreak + loss last year, and it grounded me. It brought me back to the reality that we aren't guaranteed the "time" we might assume. So then that brings me to the ideas of what I truly want to spend my time doing. And one thing I know I don't want to spend my time doing this year is allowing myself to let others speak negativity into my life. 

What do you mean?

I mean that I'm going to say 'no' more often. I'm not just going to smile + nod when someone is a jerk. I'm unfollowing things that don't add value to my life as I read or see it. I'm going to create art that doesn't have to be shared on social media to be appreciated or noticed. I'm going to stand up for my marriage, myself, and our future. I'm going to live out, "what God has joined together, let no man separate." Because man has no business making comments about our life or the things that we do. Man has no right to speak non-life-giving words + actions into anything God has joined- not just marriages but in families + children too. And this last one is being shouted from the mountain tops towards the photography community.. I won't fall into the vortex of underlying competition across the internet. 

Whew. Deep breath.

I want you to hear my heart. I'm not doing these things to make myself feel a certain way. Feelings are only temporary. I'm truly taking more control of what I allow into my life- our life. Miles + I are one flesh; what effects me will directly effect him. It will directly take a toll (negative or positive) on how we live. People can say all day that what others think about them doesn't matter, but we all know that when others have a perception about us that is totally warped + incorrect, it effects us. So I'm here to say that others can think all they want, but I won't let them have a say.

In the past, I've been a people pleaser.

When I left to hike the Appalachian Trail in June of 2016, that was the first time in my life that I did something because I wanted to.. not because someone suggested it or told me it would be beneficial. Most people wholeheartedly supported me, but there were still a few stink bugs. And for a while, I took their negativity, misunderstanding, and comments to heart. But then I took a step back. I remembered that this is my life. Not theirs. It was the most rewarding time in my life. I'm so glad I didn't please others by fulfilling the path they thought I should have taken. 

Grace. Lots of grace.

Being bold + explaining to others how I'm not going to let them speak on behalf of things they only know a few details about doesn't mean I'm going to be a b*tch. I'm going to choose kindness. I'm going to be rational in my rhetoric. I'm going to be a listener. But I'm also going to fight the right fights. 

Competition on the internet?

I'm a part of two huge, amazing communities on the internet- the hiking + photography communities. Both are very different, but both are also extremely similar. One thing I've struggled with on the internet in general is the underlying competition. One popular tag line is "community over competition". And there are incredible human beings who live that out day to day. I'm lucky to be friends with many of them. But then I get this feeling that sometimes we aren't posting or sharing because we believe in the content.. sometimes it feels like a race to the most followers, the most likes, the most features, the coolest locations, the prettiest couples, the most miles, the Triple Crown, owning the best gear.. the list goes on but you get it. And I'm so tired of seeing it. I am vowing to myself that I'll stay true to who I am, I'll adventure because my heart is in it, and I'll welcome anyone into any community. I'll answer questions, reach out, invite, share.. I'll be a help. I'll show others the wonderful aspects to these communities. Because goodness gracious it's tough out there. "If you couldn't bring a camera with you, would you still travel?"

All in all,

I'm monitoring more of my life. I'm digging deeper into what I let effect me. I'm going to be patient with myself + loved ones. I'm going to take charge of what I can control- me + my life. One last tid-bit- only you can control the way you feel. Yeah, people can do + say some really crappy things, but how you react to them is all up to you. So let the haters hate, but then take control by saying no, fighting the right fights, and protecting your well being. Life is too short to let others steal your time. Because honestly, all we're wasting is our precious, limited time. Life is about you. Jesus created you to live for His glory. We are created in His image. We are created to further the Kingdom. And I don't know about you, but I don't want to be found worrying about what others think when I could be putting my energy into things that matter.

I hope you can hear my heart.