thankful for your blessings
Mind, Body & Spirit

Appreciate the Colors: On Being Thankful For Your Blessings

This past year, the final year of my 20s, has been filled with blessings. There are no big or small blessings; they’re one size fits all. It’s important that you take a moment each day to pause and be thankful for your blessings.

My blessings have been plentiful. In the past year I’ve traveled to San Francisco, Napa Valley, Vermont, Connecticut, Boston, Philadelphia, and Bali all for the first time. I’ve also revisited the lands that raised me: Cincinnati, Kentucky and Savannah. I’ve come to know more of the world, and in doing so, I’ve come to know more of myself.

thankful for your blessingsCounting Your Blessings

♥ I am a strong, confident, ambitious, career woman of New York City. I’m exactly who I set out to be and I’m still growing every day. My first thought each morning is how blessed I am.

♥ Those two beautiful, healthy furry princesses who bring so much joy into my life and who’ve taught me the values of loyalty, responsibility, and unconditional love are a blessing.

♥ Having friends all around the globe is quite the blessing. Some I have known a lifetime, others I’ve just met, but they all offer beautiful memories.

♥ I know love, and that magical energy it brings with it. I’ve known all kinds of love in my short life: paternal love, family love, friendly love, puppy love and passionate love.

♥ At twenty-nine, I’m blessed to still have a deep desire to learn. I’m a student of the world. I spend each day learning more about the things that peak my interest.

♥ New York City is my home, the city of my dreams! I feel even more blessed to know I’m surviving  in the city.

♥ I  have a job that I thoroughly enjoy and co-workers who aren’t just friends, but family. They teach me every day.

Life Is Filled With Choices

Knowing how to lead your own life is important. Each day life is filled with choices – whether to stay or to go; what to eat; should you walk down the side walk or skip; whether to love or be loved; deciding to move forward or dwell on the past. These are all questions we constantly ask ourselves, and we, as the masters of our own destiny, must be brave enough to say what we want. You have to be brave enough to live life as you deem necessary.

The World Is Your Canvas

The world is your canvas and you can paint it anyway you like. At least that’s how I like to imagine it. As each year passes and I explore more of the world, I feel privileged seeing how uniquely beautiful each corner of it is. In a world filled with so much turmoil and tragedy sometimes it’s nice to stop and appreciate the magic that exists around us – the little things – even just the air you breathe.

The Blessing of Bali

This summer my job sent me to Bali for 3 weeks. I’d never been, but had longed to go. It wasn’t just the beauty that attracted me, but the spiritual element of this small Indonesian island. For a place so little it’s known for something so big.

I wanted to spend time in a culture whose core ideology is gratitude. Each day I watched as the Balinese put together an offering for the spirits that guide them. They didn’t give much because they don’t have much, but that didn’t stop them from offering. The Balinese practice every day what we in the western world so often forget and take for granted, that we should be thankful for our blessings.

Being there was exactly what I needed, a reminder to be thankful to whomever or whatever in the universe has filled my life with all of this goodness. I needed to take some time to be thankful for all of the beauty on my canvas.

Figuring Out Your Beliefs

I’m not a religious person in the traditional sense, but I’ve always believed in something. I need to believe in something. For me, believing makes the world more colorful. But it’s also important to believe in the power of oneself. Know your strengths and be brave enough to try and better your weaknesses. Desire to conquer your fears.

Conquering Your Fears

My greatest fear is sharks.  I watched Jaws at an impressionable age and that fear never left. But I’ve never shied from that fear. I still watch Jaws every summer, the day before I go to the beach, just to remind myself of that fear. Then, the next morning I go to the ocean. I lay out my towel and remove my sundress and I walk to the edge of the water. I don’t stop and think about my fear, I just let go and dive in. The feeling is exhilarating.

While in Bali, I met a person who shared his tales of South African adventures – one of them included being in a cage among Great Whites. My skin tingled as he spoke. He said it was the most spectacular moment, being underwater among these enormous creatures who’ve roamed the earth far longer than we can imagine. As he explained it, “In that moment you realize what an insignificant being you are in this great big world. And it’s important to realize that.”

By the end of his story I was burning with a hunger to enter one of those cages and be among the thing that I most fear, to face it head on, to survive amongst that fear.

I haven’t entered that cage yet, but I will. I’ll do it because I’m blessed with a desire to be my best self and part of that is being brave enough to take on the world in full force. I feel like each day I’m doing that and it makes me stronger.

Use Your Paint

Life is not a fairy tale or a Hollywood film. It doesn’t come  boxed up with a ribbon. Life is tough. It’ll kick your ass every day if you let it. But life is a gift. Each day you hold a paintbrush and the gift is your ability to keep painting and adding new colors to your canvas. And the goal is to never stop adding new colors.  Though to reach that goal it’s important to take a second each day and be thankful for all of your paint.

Following a five-year stint in New York City, Ashley is now a Los Angeles transplant. Having grown up in rural Kentucky, Ashley is passionate to share self-care techniques used around the world and hopes to make them accessible to folks in rural communities. Ashley believes in gratitude, personal legends, and doing good. Aside from being a business leader in her professional life, Ashley is a novelist and freelance writer.

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