Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, New Me

The cold air allowed me to see my breath as I walked home from the gym today. It reminded me that I am alive. I should start living in such a way.

I think of the millions of people sitting alone today thinking, eating lunch, drinking coffee, chatting online, watching tv, reading a book, taking their dog for a walk, smiling to a complete stranger, crying in the mist of a thought attack, or listening to their favorite song to cheer them up. No matter what they are doing, one thought is sure to cross their mind: How will I make 2010 a better/new/different year? That thought came to me on my walk home. So I made a list of things I want to achieve this year. My mini dream index for 2010.

1- I weigh 215 lbs. today. From reading my previous blogs, I'm sure you realize that I have issues with eating/my body. When I was at the deepest point of my eating disorder, I weighed 159 lbs -- hip bones sticking out in all. My new years dream with my body is to NOT give myself a number. Just give myself a break. I just want my jeans to fit a little better. I want my mind to drift away from negative thoughts about my body to positive thoughts. I'm healthy. I'm cancer free. I'm disease free (for the most part). I just want to develop habits to help me stay this way.

2- I want to buy a meal for a complete stranger. A few weeks ago, Justin told me read an article about a couple who randomly paid for another couple's bill in a resturant. The rest of the day, people paid it forward and bought someone else's lunch. Pretty awesome. I want to be a part of that experience.

3- I want to write a t0-do list and really do everything on the list. I am fabulous at making to-do lists, but my problem is completing everything on my list. Never once have I done every single thing on my list. Maybe I didn't work out. Maybe I didn't pay off more money to my student loan. Maybe I didn't write that thank you card. But I am going to do everything, at least once. Perhaps that will create the confidence I need to continue completing all my daily tasks. Or it will remind me that not everything needs to be done in one day. Time management is key.

4- I want to smile at complete strangers. For no reason at all. A smile is more contagious than the flu.

5- I want to thank everyone, yes everyone, who has made a difference in my life. This will be a task, but I can tell you right now that I will complete this mini dream. I need to get one "thank you" compelted now-- hopefully you read this: Thank you Brad King for inspring me in so many ways outside of my understanding. "Just know that today is not the end of all knowing." I can't even thank this man enough for what he has done for me and the way I approach the world. And he also inspired me to write a blog. And Tiffany Holbert- keep writing in your blog. You too helped me get started.

6- I want to scuba dive in the ocean. We all know that one of my biggest fears is sharks. But fear can't control my life. And if I am going to afraid of something, I mise well make it more practical. I have never seen a shark in my entire life, not in a lake, not in the ocean, and not driving down the street. I should be more afraid of drivers on the road than creatures in the ocean. So I need to get real and get over it. And dive in.

7- I want to get on dean's list my final semester of college. I've accomplished this task for the last four semester, but I can't let my final semester slow me down. I need to remind myself of the importance of being invovled and engaged in my education.

8 - I want to read more. My mind already feels better after reading just one book. Can you imagine what reading just three more will do? Watch out world.

9- I want to finish the introduction to one of my book ideas. I have four ideas going right now. Baby steps. I will write at least the introduction to my book, even though David Foster Wallace points out most people skip the introduction in books. I, however, will at least be motivated and focused on finshing it with having competed that.

10- I am leaving this one blank. I want to find something new to add to my list within the new year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

For Christmas, I asked for inspirational books. I love reading. Even more so, I love reading true inspirational stories that leave my heart happy and my eyes wet.

The first book I started reading was "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. The college professor writes about his life after terminal cancer. Most importantly, he writes about his life experiences. The things he has learned. The people he has met. And what touches me the most, is when he talks about acheieving his childhood dreams.

Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am a dreamer. A believer. And I'll do anything to reach my dreams. Every day I walk down my stairs and see a sign that serves as a constant reminder for this part of my soul, "Imagine it, you can achieve it. Dream it, you can become it."

So I started thinking about my childhood dreams. What I wanted. Who I wanted to be. Where I wanted to go. I created this list in my head:

I wanted to go to the ocean, when I remembered it.

I was born in Japan and we moved to South Carolina until I was just months old (I think). Mom would always take us to the ocean. We would run on the beach and chase the seagulls. We would eat bolgona sandwiches full of mayo, cheese, and a special touch of sand. I only have pictures to remind me of those times, but I know they were some of the best days during my childhood. Growing up, I just had those pictures, not the memories. I wanted to go back to that place. And when I was about ten years old, my Dad took us back to the place where I had some of my best childhood memories. We went on the same peir that he fished off. We drove by the house that we used to live in. We chased the seagulls and even ate the same sand and bolgna sandwiches. The only difference was I went to this place with a newer family. My parents divorced when I was young, so I came back with my step mom and two younger sisters. I had a blast. I remember closing my eyes listening to the waves. I pictured my mom there. She had long hair. She had a smile on her face and she was holding my hand. She was happy. We were happy. A dream come true.

I wanted to have a date to a school dance.

Thank you Cinderalla for making me understand the importance of having a beautiful dress to wear and impress the man of my dreams. In reality, I was a heavy set young girl. And some people really don't understand how mean kids can be until they have something that sets them apart. I was tall. I was taller than every single boy in my class until about eighth grade. I got called "The Jolly Green Giant" or "a beast" nearly ever recess period. Kids would walk by and ask, "So, how is the weather up there?" It crushed me. I was set apart. I was reminded that I was different, but that didn't stop me from dreaming. Despite all the name callings, I knew one day I'd find my prince for the ball. I cried a lot, don't get me wrong. But I have a wonderful family who reminded me that I am a beautiful person inside and out -- one of a kind. I got my first date to a school dance when I was in tenth grade, Andy Sauer. I was on Homecoming court and was representing our class during the football game. We had a great time and I just found the big picture of us holding hands at the dance like a happy couple. We weren't dating, but my dream finally came true. He even brought me a flower. :)

I wanted to marry Nick Carter.

The Backstreet Boys made my heart melt. Even though Nick Carter was five years older than me, I knew he thought about me. I just knew he wanted to marry me one day. He loved me and didn't know me yet. Okay, maybe not so much. Maybe about 2 million young girls world wide also thought the same thing. I'm not sure, but I did sign my middle school yearbook as "Ashley Carter" -- so in my own, unqiue way I had married Nick Carter. He just didn't know it. A dream wedding outside of reality.

I wanted to ride the tallest rollar coaster in the world.

My step mom taught me the importance of living on the edge. She was so fun. She went horseback riding on tall trails and loved riding roller coasters. We went on a family vacation one year with no destination in mind. We were just going to drive and see where we ended up. Cedar Point was one of the pit stops. I remember looking up at "The Magnum" roller coaster. I thought it was so tall that I could say "hello" to Jesus Christ in the sky. I stopped in the middle of the walkway and people had to dodge around me. Frustrated, they were. In awe, I was. My dad looked at me and smiled. He was going on the ride with me. We waited for more than an hour to get on the ride. I kept seeing younger people than me. I thought, surely if they can do this I can. I looked at older people. If they don't have a stroke, surely I won't. But I was still terrifed. Finally, it was our turn. The gates opened. "GOOOOD AFTERNOON MAGNUM RIDERS! Are you excited to travel (lots of feet) in the air and drop at speeds of (I really wasn't breathing so I didn't know what she said)?!?!" No I wasn't ready. I looked at my dad with tears in my eyes, but not yet running down my cheeks. "Dad, I really don't want to do-" and we took off. The clinking sound the rollar coaster made on the way up was the worst part. I looked down and saw nothing but tiny ants for people. We dropped so fast and my stomach fell into my mouth. My dad was laughing so hard and then I started laughing. My dad is incredible. He is my hero and I got to live out one of my dreams with him, laughing the entire way.

I wanted to be homecoming queen.

I was just thirteen years old when I realized I had another dream in life. Trapped in an unfamiliar body; I knew who I wanted to be, but I wasn't there yet. I was playing football with the boys, a true tom boy. I was wearing basketball shorts and a white t-shirt. I didn't have any make-up on and I don't think I brushed my hair in two days. I didn't own anything other than a sports bra and I always wore tall socks to my knees. I wasn't popular and boys never gave me a double take, unless trying to figure out what I was thinking wearing that outfit. I was not homecoming queen material, but I still always loved the home football game where the girls dressed in beautiful dresses and waited patiently for the annoucer to name her queen. I always looked at the girls' faces who didn't win first. I wanted to see the fake smile or the bratty expression. I already knew what the girls' face looked like who won. She was so happy. I wanted to be her. Who knew that years later, my dream would have a head start. I was homecomg court my sophomore year in high school. I got a close-up view of the queen and her court. Finally, my senior year the principal came on for the end of day annoucements. He read off all the names for queen canidates. With a smile on my face, I heard him say my name. I couldn't believe it. I had wanted this since I was a tom boy watching all the pretty girls from the sidelines. Now, I had the chance to be the queen. The chance to prove to other girls like me that dreams come true. And you don't have to be a size zero and have the best clothes. You just have to be yourself. And for that reason, my peers voted me as their homecoming queen. I looked up at the crowed and heard a roar of cheers. The first face I saw was my dad. He was so proud. Then I saw my mother. She was smiling so big. She has such a beautiful smile that it brought tears my eyes. She, of all people, knew my struggles with my self-esteem. I wrote her e-mails about never fitting in and constantly wanting to be better. She told me to stay who I am. I'm glad I listened to her. For some people, this isn't a big deal--its just high school. But for me, this was a dream come true.

I wanted to be a cheerleader.

I would go to sporting events all the time. My step brother was in every sport possible and I was boy crazy. So, I knew in order to check out the hot boys, I needed to "support my step brother." But more than that, I always sat in the stands and watched the cheerleaders. I loved their outfits. I loved that they could lift up the crowd. I loved that they could perform dances and do back flips. I could never do any of that, but I dreamed of it. When I was a senior in high school, one of my best friends told me to come to cheerleading practice with her. I joked that I could pratice with her. Suddenly, the joke turned serious. "Ashley, you would be the best cheerleader. You have such spirit!" Yeah, and no coordination. But I went and I practiced. Without even trying out, I walked onto the squad. I was really bad at first and I cried when I had to perform the dance I had just learned in front of the entire squad. I just kept thinking about how much everyone was judging me. I coulnd't handle the pressure. And I broke down. But that didn't stop me. I took home a video tape and practiced the dance in my basement about thirty times a day. Over and over again. Finally, I mastered it. I was so proud of myself. I never thought I could do something like this and all it took was putting myself out there. Taking a chance and staying positive. A dream came true and a lesson learned.

I wanted to be Britney Spears.

If you didn't want to be Britney Spears, then you wanted to date her. I was part of the team that wanted to be her. I wanted to have her body. I wanted to have her tan. I wanted to have her dance moves. And I was perfectly fine with dating Justin Timberlake. My dream came true when I was asked to be a part of a talent show at my high school. The twist was that it would be called, "Bellmont Idol" and some teachers would be judges that acted like Randy, Simon, and Paula. Students would dress up like constestants and lip sing songs. Or actually sing. But since my voice would shatter glass, I decided to lip sing. Who would I be? The answer was obvious: I would be Britney Spears. I already had the outfit. I wore it many times at home. Dancing in my room to her music. The school girl skirt. The tall thigh high stockings. The white t-shirt tucked into my bra. And the black clogs. I had it all. I was ready to go. With the help of my cheerleading friends, I created a dance and everything. I got on stage. Nervous. The lights were warm on my face and I saw my friends in the crowd. They made signs for me like they were at a concert. "We love Britney!!" and "No. 1 Britney Fan!" Everyone thought it was a joke, but for me, this was a dream come true. I finally got to be Britney Spears and in front of then entire school, not my bedroom mirror. They have this on video at my high school and I would pay money to see the footage. It was a great show and I would have gladly signed autographs at the end. :)

I wanted to get an "A" in a college course.

I wasn't the smart kid in class growing up. I never knew the answer when the teacher called me. I always knew the answer when the teacher didn't call me on me though. Funny how that works out. I don't think I was motivated in high school to focus on my grades. I didn't think I was an "A" student, so I never tried to be one. When I went away to college, I knew what everyone was thinking. "She will be back next semester because all she will do is party!" The thing is, I'm paying for my college on my own. I'm working for it. Everytime I miss class, I am the one missing out. I think with that pressure and responisbility, I learned the importance of taking control of my education. When I first came to college, I just wanted one "A" -- because I thought it was impossible to do. Now, I strive for an "A" in every class. I love learning and stretching my mind to new places. A dream of mine turned into an expectation.

I wanted to marry my best friend.

This dream will come true on May 15, 2010 when I marry Justin. :) I will blog about that day then.

Much love,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I can't wipe this smile off my face. I find it quite funny too, considering I walked to campus with a frozen tear stream down my face. My make-up was missing in one single path down my face, as the salty tears washed the color away. My heart just hurt. With the holidays coming up, a new kind of stress develops- trying to be at four Christmas in one day. Literally four. I love my family and I love Justin's family- I'm used to being shared on the holidays, but I just wish Christmas was two days long and I could see everyone. It just got to me yesterday.

I spent most of my day yesterday working on my Web site for class. I titled it "Write Minded" - just like my blog. I'm sort of addicted to the catchy name. I was in a funky mood. I couldn't figure out how to work the scanner because the lady in the room told me to just hit the big button. Okay- well the big button doesn't scan the image and save it. So I sat there for 30 minutes hitting the big button waiting for a miracle to happen. Finally, I sucked up my pride and asked her again for help. She said, "Well did you highlight what you want scanned and then hit 'scan' at the bottom of the screen?" Um no, actually I didn't do that because you only told me to hit the big button. Fail. Needless to say, I still fired on.

By the end of the day, the communications director for the secertary of state e-mailed me back wanting to set up an interview with me for a possible part-time internship. I was so excited! I didn't even know how to reply because I had countless thoughts running through my head. Can I juggle an internship, work, and school while trying to plan my wedding and have a social life? Maybe. Maybe not. But after talking to friends and my internship advisor, I realized that going for the interview is the first step. I'm hopeful about my future and I think God is taking me in the right direction. Or I'm about to learn another life lesson - either way, I'm excited.

So the holidays are coming up. I am poor. My door handle is broken so I have to climb over my passenger seat to get in. I've gained about 10 lbs since this time last year. I am trying to be 45 different places at once. My love is out of town on an audit. But I am happy. I am so so happy and I can't tell you amazing it feels to be truly happy with my situation, no matter how good or how bad. Life is journey and the destination isn't as important as the trip. I'm so glad I've finally realized that I need to be happy the entire way or I won't be happy in the end.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stupid Things I Did as a Kid, Teenager, and Last Weekend

1. The first really stupid thing I can remember is trying to get the neighbor boy to like me (when I was about 4). I hated dirt, bugs, and green animals in general; however, I followed him to the creek and carried a frog home to mom. I squeezed it so hard, so it wouldn't run away, that its guts came out. Adorable from the beginning of time, right?

2. My sister and I used to blow up water balloons and put them in our bra. Then take pictures. I really hope those never got developed.

3. I wore glitter...on my cheeks. With white eyeliner. And pigtails. In school picture. Need I say more?

4. I signed my middle school yearbook, "Ashley Carter" -- because I truly thought I was going to marry Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys.

5. I would eat an entire bag of chips because someone told me that you could make wishes on the chips that were folded in half, touching. In turn, I got really fat.

6. After the first time I started my period, I didn't have it the month after. I thought I was pregnant. Never kissed a boy. Never had sex. Never watched American Pie. But I did remember learning in health class that when you pregnant you didn't have your period. We need a better sex education system as I later learned that active girls are often irregular. Education epic fail.

7. In high school, I drove a huge Astro Gladitar van. Big Blue. And I had no sense of how large and in charge this thing was. I backed into 4 people in the school parking lot and slammed into a car on the bridge during after school traffic. I only changed the oil once or twice. In two years. Not kidding.

8. One night, I was at my best friend Kyle Emenhiser's house and I was looking down into his creek. The tree branch I was leaning on broke and I fell down into the creek. I was screaming and yelling for help. Finally, someone yelled, "JUST STAND UP!" So I did. It was 3 inch deep creek and I thought I was drowning. Mike Tester helped me climb out of the ten foot drop. Then I got back up and did a canoe ball jump back in. Beer may or may not have been invovled. Sorry Kyle.

9. When I was six, I cried, begged, and screamed for my mom to cut my hair into a mullet. A hardcore mullet. She did it.

10. I voted for Obama.

11. I gave my sister my favorite shirt when we were teenagers if she promised not to tell me that I accidently made her black out while we were wrestling.

12. I jumped down our flight of stairs at home because I thought I saw an alien in our window. It was really a Santa Claus sticker. Don't ask.

13. We were playing hide-and-seek in the dark when I was a teenager. My friend and I climbed up the pipes on the church next door and hid on the roof. It was a great hiding place until a cop came and demanded we jump down immediately. He thought we were doing drugs. I thought I was going to crap myself, but I jumped down like spider man.

14. I was registered on Super epic fail.

15. I thought Burger King's Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwhich with extra mayo was a really healthy meal.

16. Danny and Syrus from the Real World came into Scotty's Brewhouse when I was hosting one day. Syrus asked me he should order. I said, "You like chicken, don't you?" With all my innocent heart I was unaware of the racial stereotype and I personally love chicken. He took my advice and ordered the BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad.

17. On New Years Eve at Stephanie Lithicum's house, I kept falling down the stairs. On purpose. I still don't know why I acted like my body was laundry basket.

18. I started drinking. That was the begininng of a lot of stupid things.

19. "Sooo you like horses?" --- only a few girls on the track team will get this one...

20. "If you are smart, you will know where to find me." --- again only a few people will understand this one....

21. I put eggs in peanut butter fudge. Don't eggs go in everything when cooking? Guess scrambled egg peanut butter fudge was a bad life choice.

22. These kids were fighting over a what to shake to get. So I asked them, "Do guys just want a chocolate shit!" ...I was trying to say "Chocolate SPLIT" say shit around young boys and watch them point and tell their parents you just said a bad word.

23. I worked out in really short shorts at one point in my life. Why? So embrassing.

24. I pulled out a tampon instead of a pen to take a table's order.

25. I just told everyone some of my most embarassing life moments. Oh well, hopefully you laughed a few times. :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

One Year

A lot of things can change in a year. In fact, a lot of things can change in one single day. One year ago on Dec. 6, 2008 Justin asked me to become his wife. To make his hand in marriage. To begin the rest of our lives together, as one. To make a comittment to love each other- through thickness and thin, sickness and health, for richer or poorer, til' death do us part.

I said yes. Without hestiation. I know a lot of people think we are young, which is reflective in the couples I see from high school getting divorced not even lasting five years. Others think we are stupid, explaining that marriage is over-rated and just a piece of paper that means nothing in our society. Some are extremely happy, including myself, for a couple to travel through life together hand-in-hand, heart-in-heart.

In one year, my father was placed in situation where he saved his wife's life. He donated his kidney to her on July 29, 2009. We saw her health failing as she sunk into kidney failure from her diabetes. I will never forget the day I found her helpless in the bathroom and I had to administer a shot that would blast up her sugar and bring her make to conciousness. Nothing scared me more in my life than seeing her like that, so lifeless. Now, my dad is short a kidney and my step mother has three kidneys. They are both healthy, but that was an event during 2009 that really shaped my outlook on life. I try to focus on people instead of things. I can to smile more and complain less.

My grandpa got cancer last year. He had surgery to remove his kidney and the cancer during finals week. I couldn't focus on the test I was taking when he went into surgery that morning. I wanted to answer cancer and hope for every answer. He is doing well now and is in remission. Another blessing.

My sister had another baby boy, Landen Dewayne Skinner. A beautiful little boy who makes my heart melt when I see him and nose want to fall off when he eats too much. I still have a lot of work and practice before Justin and I can have children.

One year seemed to pass as fast as one week. I don't know where the time is going and I hear it goes faster with age; however, I am hopeful for my future. I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life in May.