Updated: Feb 13
"Where’s the light?"
Born in Santa Ana, CA to my twenty-year old parents and the village that surrounded us, I've always grown up with a sense of community. I am one of six children and I'm fortunate to have a large and loving family as I know that this is not the case for most. My mother is one of six girls and- I love telling people this, she is an identical triplet. As nature would have it, five of my six aunts married and have a village of their own. There are thirteen cousins on my mom's side, myself and siblings included. My father is the oldest of two girls and combined add one boy and two girls to the mix of cousins along with my siblings. As you can imagine, I have grown up experiencing many different dynamics of family and personality. I am fifty percent Mexican from my moms side and (to my knowledge) Italian, Irish, English, Welsh and possibly Native American. My family and culture have played an important part in developing the person who I have grown to be.
Community. I believe that we all long to find our tribe, blood related or not. Part of our natural instinct is to find our pack and define what part we play among this group. I've had an affinity for team sports since I was a young girl. Softball was fun the first year, team gatherings, my best friends were on the team, and it seemed to flow as youth sports should. Second year, it became competitive and my coach on the second team yelled at me for having my glove on the wrong hand. I remember this moment so vividly. I was in the outfield and I wasn't really paying attention, I was fidgeting to pass the time. At the end of the inning, my coach looked at me and sternly said, "if you ever have your glove on the wrong hand again, I'm pulling you out of the game." This moment taught me about self awareness, reaction, and passion. I learned that, I wasn't passionate about softball and I wouldn't be playing the following year. I learned that I don't take myself too seriously from a very early age and as I grew up, I would carry this sense of jubilee with pride.
Fast forward to eighth grade and I began playing water polo! I have always loved the water- swimming until dusk in the summers at my grandparent’s home in Costa Mesa, playing in the river at Blythe, or finding my love for the ocean via junior lifeguards and countless family beach trips. Water polo also brought me friends whom I could relate to and who also would introduce me to aspects of myself I had not yet discovered. These girls were athletic with confident femininity, they shared my sense of joy each time we jumped in the pool, and through this sport it was a daily challenge to push one another to be our best.
Growing older and navigating adolescence, I made LOTS of decisions in high school/middle school that got me into trouble with my parents, my friends’ parents, and my school. My dad says I was making these decisions intentionally to get caught, to call attention. I don’t quite understand that statement at this time in my life. It was because I wanted to be out with friends and party. I got drunk for the first time in eighth grade at a family New Year's party. The following years would be filled with spending Friday and Saturday nights finding out whose parents would be out of town or whose older sibling would buy us alcohol. Then one night in ninth grade, a friend’s parents were out of town. It was close to winter break because polo practice filled our mornings and days after school. I would kiss a girl that night and ignite the fact that… maybe I liked girls? I brushed it off though. “Lots of girls get drunk and make out with their friends. It’s normal?” From there on out, I would drunkenly kiss friends but it wouldn’t be until college that I would come face to face with my sexual preference and own the fact that I was attracted to both males and females.
The first time I realized this about my sexuality, I was too young to even know what sexuality was. I had seen a tv show where two girls kissed and from there on out, I would try and watch the same show in hopes I would see something similar. I would make my barbies kiss and pretend they were two moms. I never felt like I was doing anything wrong. I grew up in the church and learned later that it wasn’t okay for two boys or two girls to kiss or be married. Even now, I don’t feel like it is wrong and if it is then it’s my cross to bear and no one else’s. So, fast forward to 2014. I started dating my best friend from high school which I had no place in doing so as I was not fully healed from a college flame. The impact of this would slowly deteriorate our relationship over the course of the next two years until she ended things because she was falling in love with another woman.
This break-up was tough for many reasons. We were both part of the same friend group both in Denver and back home in Costa Mesa. We also lived in the same apartment. We were living in downtown Denver at the time and keep in mind, I moved to Denver with this girl. She and the mutual friends we shared were my people. Once we broke up, I felt alone despite having developed a strong relationship with her dear friend and college teammate. We broke up on the night of November 8, 2016- many of you may remember that date as the night our 45th president was elected. As strange as it sounds, once we broke up, I felt a weight lifted off my being. There would be many challenging times to come, but in that moment I felt an immense pressure released. I believe it was the feeling of a fresh start, but my revitalization would not fully set in until I moved back to Costa Mesa in 2018. More to come on that, but for now.. cue, Ashley self-sabotage.
In the months following the break-up, I would drink, smoke chops (weed and tobacco), and do drugs excessively. I threw myself a birthday party two months after the break up which ended in me getting black out drunk, having extremely loud sex, running around my house naked, intruding on my ex and her new girlfriend in the bath tub, and stabbing a knife in our kitchen wall. Needless to say, it was time for me to move out of our downtown Denver apartment. In the course of the next year I would move into four different apartments until I moved into the final house I lived in before moving back to CA. 2017 shook me to my core, kicked me down, let me stand up and then sucker punched me once I got back up. I spent much of that year believing I wouldn’t make it to my 27th birthday and not knowing whether I wanted to anyway. I wouldn’t be here today without the support of a handful of friends who became family, a dear friend- once girlfriend, random acts of kindness, and my family.
I write this on January 27th, having turned 27 years old twenty two days ago. I write this to give you a window into my life and to share with you that you’re not alone. It is my goal through this post and future posts to bring people together. I hope to encourage you to discover yourself and find your people along the way. We all yearn for a sense of belonging and a purpose. I believe that it is my God given purpose to provide a safe space where you can live your most authentic self. It feels like my calling to share details with my community about meditation, natural grounding, my favorite body wash, self awareness, and most importantly compassionate empathy. Have compassion with yourself. It’s okay to not know what’s next, but! the good news is, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and whether or not you can see it please trust me that it’s there and I can’t wait to be part of your journey.