Saturday, May 28, 2011

A piece of my story: Part 1

Whenever you meet someone new, they want to know your story. 
They want to know what makes you tick. They want to know where you came from and how you got to be where you are today. My story is perhaps different 
from most people's, and it has certainly made all the difference in who I am today.

At a young age, I noticed that my life was different than that of my friends. You see, 
my mother was an alcoholic. She had been ever since she was a teenager.
Ever since she left her sleepy Wisconsin town and ran away from home when she was about 15.
After that:
She had a bad first marriage.
She met my father.
They split-up.
The drinking got worse.

Well, enough about her life! After-all, this is my story, not her's.

As a young child, I can remember taking care of my three younger brothers while she was out of it.
I was seven and I did not understand what was wrong with her. Don't get me wrong.
 There were good days. Really good days.
On these days, I can remember watching her crochet beautiful blankets and being so amazed 
at what she could create. We would paint each other's nails and I would bask in the warmth of
peace. I did not have to worry about making dinner, or about helping my brothers with their homework.
Then before I knew it, the clouds would roll in, and the good days would be over. 
She would trip and stumble and I would know that it was time for me to be the adult again. 
Time for me to be the protector. 

My mother was an inactive member of the Church, but we would go every now and then. 
We went with a particular couple that had befriended my family.
Who was the couple you ask? Well, they were Brother and Sister McCarthy.
I loved going to Church. I loved Primary and everything about it.
I loved the peace I felt there as I sang primary songs and learned
about how Jesus loved and watched over everyone.
Prayer became a major thing for me, even at the tender age of seven.
I was intrigued with the idea that when I spoke, someone would listen and speak back.
When I prayed, I felt loved; I felt safe. 

When knowledge of my home-life became public, the McCarthy's stepped in.
The took us in while my mother went to rehab. There, I got to be a kid.
I could run and play. I had someone to take care of me. I had parents. 
Parents that would help me with my homework. Parents that would tuck me in at night
and rub my back until I got sleepy. As time passed, I no longer thought of my
mother. I was content in my new world.
Well, my mother eventually completed her rehabilitation. She wanted her children back.
My brothers could not wait to go back. I, on the other hand, was dreading it.
I had heard her promise before that the drinking was done with. I had tearfully watched as
her promises were broken. I realized that I was done. I had enough.
I decided that I never wanted to go back, I wanted to be adopted. 
The McCarthy's did not want me to go back either. 
Thanks to them, I never had to.
Adoption papers were drawn up and my mother relinquished her rights.
From that moment on, she has been known as Lisa.

From that day forward, I no longer referred to the McCarthy's as Brother and Sister McCarthy.
They became mom and dad. 
Many people upon hearing my story, cannot believe their ears. They instantly give me a pitying glance
and applaud my bravery. They congratulate me on recognizing, as young as I was, that I 
deserved a better environment. They credit my strength at enduring. I just see it as taking lemons 
and making lemonade :)

As I have grown older, I realize that I am grateful for the life that I have had. I am 
grateful for the family that I was born into. The Lord was watching out for me. He knew 
what he was doing and his wisdom never ceases to amaze me. I look at how my early
childhood could have been worse, and I breathe a sigh of relief. I am certain that
 I would be a completely different person had I not experienced what I had....but that is a story for 
another day.........

post signature

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Letter to 16 Year-Old Me

Dear 16 year-old Ashley,

Wow, you have finally reached the age where you can date! You have been waiting for this moment ever since you became a Beehive. You will have many crushes this year and will experience some heartbreak. You will make the decision to value your morals above boys. There will be a boy in your Spanish class that will test you and try to twist your religion around, but you will not be swayed. You will stand firm and realize that your happiness does not depend on what society values as being "normal" high school experiences.

Even though you really want to go to the After-prom party on Sunday, you will not miss much. You will recognize that decision as being one of the moments where you got to put your faith to the test. That moment, however small, will be a great experience in staying true to yourself. Breathe.....I know you feel that getting straight A's is necessary, that if you do not, the world will somehow come to an end. Just realize that there is more to life than perfect grades.

I know you believe that you know everything. You know exactly how to carry yourself in every situation.
You know all there is to know about life.
About relationships.
About boys.
About faith.
I want to tell you to stay open and to not assume that you know what the future know what they say about people that assume things.........................

If I know you at all, you are a little naive when it comes to love. You think that there is a soul-mate out there that will be your perfect match. This person will love EVERYTHING about you. Don't worry, you will come to change your opinions about love and you will realize that soul-mates are an illusion....there is something much better. You will realize that you do not have only one chance at love. You will be able to love different people in order to learn and grow.

Ash, pay better attention in Math...pretty please?
Don't take life too seriously. I know you think that this is the most stressed that you have ever been, but I can assure you, it will only get worse.
You are empathetic and feel too much. You cannot stand to watch the news and hear about the suffering and loss of others.
You cry at the thought of a Soldier going off to war and leaving his family behind. You cry when you think that there are children that starve for both food and love. Keep this quality Ashley. It is not a curse, it is one of the things that make you uniquely you.

Don't worry about boys. One day you are going to meet one that puts all the boys that you liked before to shame. When that day comes, we are both going to be so grateful that you waited to give your heart to someone that loves not only you, but more importantly, the Savior.

I want to tell you to think more carefully before you say certain things...but who are we kidding? You already over-think too many things anyways. I do want to tell you to stay true to yourself. At the end of the day, you are your harshest critic.

With love,
19..soon to be 20 year-old Ashley

P.S. BYU is amazing and you will be soo grateful for your hard-work. It will all pay off! The boy has yet to be found....but he is out there somewhere :)

High School Graduation

Freshman Year at BYU

post signature

Monday, May 23, 2011

These are a Few of My Favorite Things......

One of my all-time favorite old movies is The Sound of Music. Whenever I hear Maria singing about her "Favorite Things", I stop to think of mine.

MY Favorite Things

  • Bright Colors
  • Decorating 
  • Getting dressed up
  • Missionaries 
  • Jesus Christ 
  • Thomas S. Monson
  • Shoes
  • Helping others 
  • Quotes
  • Reading old texts
  • Sunsets
  • Dancing
  • Having a new crush
  • The Scriptures
  • Baking
  • Pearls
  • The Parent Trap
  • Crying (before you get all's therapeutic) 
  • Cute old couples that are still madly in love
  • Being clean and organized
  • Being on time
  • BYU
  • Great books
  • Crafty blogs
  • The Temple
  • Laughing until I cry
  • Breakfast
  • Jimmer Fredette (I had to, I bleed blue)
  • Country Music
  • Headbands and hats (they help on the rare almost daily bad hair day
  • The smell of clean laundry
  • Holding hands
  • My friends
  • Back-rubs
  • Cleaning
  • Disney World
  • Thomas S. Monson's talk called The Divine Gift of Gratitude 
  • Spur of the moment ideas
  • Driving with no destination in mind
  • Slurpees
  • Vanilla Twilight by Owl City
  • Thunderstorms
  • Tuesdays with Morrie
  • Forever Strong
  • My family
  • The beach
  • Men's cologne 
  • Buying/making presents for the ones I love
  • Being a June Baby (first day of summer....hollaaaaaa!)
I could go on forever! What are some things that you are grateful for?

post signature