Often my friends ask me, “Ashley. How do you do that? You just don’t seem to care about so many things! And the things you do care about, you care deeply and passionately.”
I respond, “I try to be the nicest asshole ever. If someone or something is not on my “give a f**k list, I don’t give it the time of day. And my list is pretty small. My heart only has room for so much.”
Managing stress is the hardest to implement for 95% of people trying to regain health. If a person cannot manage her over-scheduled, hyper-stressed, guilt-filled life, then I rarely am successful at helping her.
Why? Because she is not making time for what matters most, and only she can discover her needs. I can only coach her to finding those needs. I can tell her my needs, but that’s not the final solution. I doubt everyone wants to move to the country, add 100+ chickens to their family, homeschool four rowdy boys, own a few businesses, and spend time wandering the woods more than “working.” My dream may be your nightmare! 😉
At the basic level, look at ancestral health as a grounding mechanism and branch out from there. Your wiring requires you to make room for:
- social connection
- food preparation
(Notice I prefer to flip Maslow’s Hierarchy upside down when prioritizing)
So when you say you “just don’t have time,” remember your human wiring requires you to make time. I have been there, and trust me, I empathize. If I gave you a snapshot of “A Day in the Life of Ashley,” you would wonder (maybe even judge) how I am able to manage my stress with any level of success. Just know that I walk my talk because I choose to honor my ancestral wiring. It is not always easy, but most of the time it is because I am a mammal who requires the life I have shaped. That’s not how it always was for me! When I first discovered MY VALUE, it was difficult re-writing life’s expectations. Some friends honored my shift and some did not. Each day I am thankful beyond expression that my closest friend and baby daddy STUCK WITH ME. He met a frazzled, hyper-motivated 24 year old Ashley eleven year’s ago who planned on staying in the Navy for 20 years. Breastfeeding? What’s that? I remember having that thought when I was five months pregnant with my first son! Now Paul wakes to a functional medicine farmer who craves boredom, intimacy, and connection above all else. That’s quite a shift! But you know what? He helped lead me to this water, and for that I will always express deep gratitude by sharing a passionate, intimate life together.
To make these changes, stop wishing for a better way and just make the better way. I know that it’s hard. Set realistic expectations. Make your time table. And take charge of YOU. We do not need internal strength before making these changes. We gain internal strength from these changes.
How can you start this shift now?
Perspective. That’s a word that I understood early in life, but that does not mean I was mature enough to properly apply it. It does require a certain level of maturity in order to have perspective. That is why the “don’t you know how many children around the world are starving” technique does not work well with children. They lack the level of maturity to understand this, and it is up to us to shape their world and keep it balanced. It is up to us to give them perspective with real life experiences, not just lectures. The funny and ironic thing about perspective is that sometimes it reveals itself in an unpredictable way. But what perspective gives you is value in how you spend your time and a highly selective process for what upsets you. I can summarize it with one sentence:
Learn how to be a better a**hole.
Yes, yes yes. I went there. And while you are working towards this, enjoy these fast-track tips:
- Love others, and I mean real love – the unconditional kind – I am inflated with romance, and I don’t just mean with Paul and the boys. When we commit to all relationships free of conditional-use permits, we find deep peace that everything will be OK no matter what. Be romantic, intimate, vulnerable and fearless. When (not if) someone shames you, stand up for your human rights. Remind that person of how she is wasting your time with her word vomit. And stop shaming your children. Be a nice, loving asshole.
- Tune inward – Your wiring requires you to love yourself. Are you always around people or plugged into your smart device? Being alone in reflection to face yourself is not easy, but in the correct scenario, it’s powerful. If you cannot stand even a moment alone with yourself, start dating yourself. Put your phone down and take yourself outside for a walk in the woods followed by dinner.
- Ponder how much worse someone else’s situation may be than your situation – It’s sad, but true. This is the bullet NO ONE wants to talk about. I experienced one of the deepest built-in struggles two months ago. I lost my father suddenly two weeks after his oncologist stated, “We have beat this! I bet you have 15 more years left!” And I shared this pain openly with my tribe in the days after (still am). Day after day, I would receive messages thanking me. Sure I wanted to crawl into an isolated hole, and I frequently did (I don’t like to cry around people…working on that). What were the thank you messages about? Thanking me for giving them perspective! And for being real, naked, and vulnerable! Someone ALWAYS has a worse picture painted in their life when compared to yours. A situation is rarely “that bad” comparatively speaking. You know this. My friends — choose your battles and upsets wisely.
- Add boredom to your schedule – I’ll let a TED Talk explain this one: https://www.ted.com/talks/manoush_zomorodi_how_boredom_can_lead_to_your_most_brilliant_ideas
- Go outside and immerse yourself nature – Go outside. Every day. Honestly I cannot believe our species has deviated so far away from this one. Nature reminds you of the perfection built by a higher power. Nature reminds you of hope, and will help you find hope again. Nature reminds you that something bigger exists and is worth pursuing. Stare at a sunflower for 5 minutes and tell me that you don’t see something beautiful that extends far beyond you.The weather does not need to keep you from this! We have the luxury of standing under a porch if it’s raining, wearing a coat and hat if it’s cold, and jumping into a pool if it’s hot. You are a human. Go outside.
- Adopt a mindfulness practice in your own life – Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of what’s happening or what you’re experiencing in the present moment. It’s being here and now without judgment. When you really consider it deeply, the only moment you can truly live in is the present moment. This type of practice frees yourself from what enslaves the heart and mind – namely greed, hatred, and unawareness (the roots of suffering, anxiety, and discontentment). Begin a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) practice at home.
- Remember moments of peace & tranquility – Embrace the lovely memories from the past, and let go of the bad. Find peace and lessons learned from the bad ones and move on. All you need to carry you through life are the moments of peace, happiness, and love assuming you learn and grow from all of the others at those decisive moments.
- Get away – Take micro-vacations weekly and large vacations yearly. Once a week, unplug and play for an entire day. Do not cross a single item off your task list on that day unless it just accidentally happened during your time of pleasure and play. You will long for that same feeling on the days full of reality-stricken work, and you will develop a path towards achieving that same feeling all day, every day. Take a yearly vacation to develop bigger plans and dreams.
- Surround yourself with balanced people – Who are your people? Who’s your tribe? Do they make you stronger or enable your weaknesses? Do they hold you accountable in a positive manner versus a demeaning manner? Find your people and remove the rest. There’s no time for toxic people. Toxic people inflate situations and cause you to lose your sense of perspective. Unconditionally love and accept those toxic people for who they are even as you send them away. That love may bring them back to you with a healthy relationship dynamic instead.
- Look through a bigger lens – Go bird’s eye and figure out if your behavior is ridiculous or warranted. I am always surprised by how much the answer to that question for myself is always “ridiculous.” I then laugh it off and am forced to move on from the situation. The bigger lens technique will almost always bring a smile to your face. Find the humor and joy in everything.
And if you really need to decompress, my farm is always open to you. I am open to you. Hug a chicken, grab a jar of bucha, and let’s enjoy connection.
~ Farmer Ashley