Friday, August 22, 2014

Your Inner Voice

I want to write about something extremely heavy on my heart today. I would even dare say it's very possible it's my greatest weakness. What is it? It's being "too nice" and "people pleasing" instead of listening to my own inner voice.

My definition of inner voice:  The voice that is your inner coach, constantly urging you to do the right things and believe the right things. It's the voice that is always trying to guide you and help you believe what your spirit already knows. It's the voice that wants to help you believe you are worth it, that you matter. 

This inner voice can sometimes be loud and other times it will be quiet, in fact sometimes it can be so quiet that you can become confused and start to believe that your inner voice doesn't even exist when put in a certain situation.  It's possible you may even feel you have two inner voices, this is never the case.

Now let me explain something. Yes, two things can be right! Yes, you can have two opinions. But from my experience, there is always one thing you believe more than the other. There is always one thing that is a better choice for you than the other.

I PROMISE you that your inner voice is ALWAYS there! If you feel confused, conflicted, hurt or any other negative emotion, this is a sign you NEED to listen to your inner voice to help guide you to where you need to be.

Your inner voice and personal intuition are different but have the same intentions and purpose. This purpose is to protect YOU and to protect YOUR SPIRIT.

Why am I talking about this today? Because I am a people pleaser. 
Hello, my name is Ashley and I have an addiction to making other people happy! This sounds like a great strength, right? WRONG! It has sometimes led me to not stay true to my heart and my core beliefs only so I could appease those around me I cared about.

I was recently put in a situation where I did something that I full-heartedly believed in. It had been on my mind FOREVER and I even prayed about it. I did it with the guidance of the spirit in my heart. Turns out a few days later opposition came my way critiquing this very thing. I didn't understand why opposition would try to attack something that I felt no one should be against. My heart hurt as I started listening to the differing opinions of others on this issue. I started to question myself and wonder if what I had just done wasn't right and if I should change my mind or my beliefs again. I didn't want contention in my life and wanted to appease others. After feeling such strong emotions of hurt and confusion, I realized I couldn't do this on my own and so I prayed. My inner voice came shining through confirming exactly what I believe in.

This isn't a story about whether I am right or wrong in this particular situation. This is a story about staying true to what my inner voice confirmed personally for me to be right. This is a scenario I was once again tempted to "people please" others around me giving in to all that I believed in. Thankfully this time I caught myself, which led to inner peace. This is a story of personal growth. This is a lesson of humility, God was able to teach me how you can still love those around you but you don't always have to agree with what they say. YES, stand up and let your voice be heard, but don't argue over it or make them think no one could be right but you. 

In this situation I also learned that two people can be right but their beliefs may not be right for the other person. It's possible someone grew up different from you, raised with different values or perspectives on life and that's all they know. Or it's possible the knowledge they do have mixed with the personal experiences they have been through has shaped their heart  to perceive things completely different from you and that's okay.

The moral of this post is always trust your inner voice, don't let others persuade you from your beliefs just so you can make them happy. Don't put the happiness of yourself in the hands of others either. You know who you are, you know what you believe in, stand firm in it and don't ever give in just to avoid someone not approving of you. You weren't sent here to earn the approval of the world, you were sent here to be a servant of Jesus Christ!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Letter to my Future Husband

Dear Future Husband,

You have been on my mind for quite some time now.
Lately a lot more often than ever before.
I pray about you and for you on many occasions.
I have no doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father is very happy with
you and he is working on allowing our paths to cross.

I pray for your happiness often. 
I pray for your choices to be able to lead you to me.
I pray for both of our hearts to desire humility so we can be guided to each other, 
all through the help of our loving Heavenly Father.

I am most looking forward to being your cheerleader.
I want to support you in ALL that you do.
I believe in you with all of my heart!

Every dream you have, every ambition that crosses your mind,
every passion that wakes you up in the morning, I want to support all of that!
I want to build you up each day and let you know how much you mean to me.

Heavenly Father has already let me know how amazing you are.
In fact he encourages me to be better every single day,
so I can be ready for you when our paths cross.
He is teaching me so many lessons lately, 
so I will be prepared for our beautiful marriage.
He reminds me often what true humility is all about, I know this will be essential
as we establish a strong eternal marriage that will last through the eternities.

Heavenly Father is teaching me patience ALL THE TIME,
you must be a pretty patient guy and he wants me to be equivalent to you.
Every time I pray about you, I feel strongly that service is just as important to you,
as it is to me.
Just think of the impact we can have on this world.
We sure will make one incredible team.

I know I will meet you very soon, 
as Satan keeps trying to find ways to distract me from meeting you. 
I know he doesn't want us to meet, which is so flattering to me.
If he is trying so hard to stop me from meeting you, we have some incredible work
to do and we are going to have an incredible impact on our posterity.

It's like I can already feel you near, which is the most amazing feeling ever.
The love I have for you and the commitment I have to God
gives me the strength to stay strong and avoid all temptation and distractions.
My love for you is already so strong. It grows every moment I think about you.

I love you! I truly can't wait to meet you. I will continue to pray for you constantly.
We are going to have the most incredible happily ever after.
Be safe and stay true to the covenants you've made so we can go to the 
temple together soon.

Love your biggest fan and future wife,
Ashley Marie

Friday, August 15, 2014

Self Esteem Advice Column: Depression


I have had depression for 3 years now and my parents don't know. I don't know how to tell them I feel like it has been so long and I am only in high school. I just got out of a bad relationship and I feel as alone as ever. I've built up such a big wall to stay away from everyone, but I am still scared of myself. I don't know how to protect myself. I feel lost and like I'm drowning. Sometimes I get so worried about my depression or other things that I feel like I can't breath and I don't know what to do to calm down. And then I start crying and I just don't know what to do. I am LDS and so I pray, but I feel unworthy and I feel so lost and forgotten. I have had a feeling to get a blessing. but I don't know who to get one from. I have a trust issues and I don't trust anyone anymore. I know my depression is genetic because my dad has depression. I am so scared that my parents will find out and will freak out. I have so many secrets that I have kept from my parents with this depression. It has just become worse and worse. I can't handle anymore. I just feel ugly and unwanted. Please, if you have any advice for me I need it.


Because you are LDS, I am going to answer you from an LDS perspective. I don't know you personally, but how I wish we could have a very deep heart-to-heart, one-on-one in person because you are so loved and so precious and I want you to know that and feel it deep within your heart.

My heart ached as I read your email. I hurt for you, as you are going through so much pain and such a hard time in your life. You are worth SO MUCH MORE than these thoughts that you have. The first advice I can offer you is to separate the negative thoughts that you have from the positive thoughts that you have. I can promise you with all my heart, might, mind and soul that every negative thought, every insecurity, doubt, fear, inadequacy, self pity, lack of motivation and all depression comes from Satan. He is the master of lies.

There are two reasons he wants you to feel these feelings.
1. He is miserable right now and wants you to feel that as well (2 Nephi 2:27)
2. He knows the influence you would have, the impact you would make and the lives you would change if you fully believed in yourself. So he wants to stop you. If he can convince you that you don't matter and your failed attempts are what define you, then he has done his job in keeping you from having the most incredible impact ever!!

You are absolutely incredible. Of course he is going to work on you, because he recognizes your worth. He knows that you have talents, words, power and abilities in your heart that can influence everyone in your circle when they shine through, so he is going to make you think you have nothing to offer.

On a note with your parents finding out, I always think it's best to tell parents what is on your heart because they are there for guidance and protection over your body & your spirit, however, I don't know your parents and maybe your situation is different. If you feel really uncomfortable talking to your parents, talk to your bishop instead! He will be able to offer you the guidance you need at this time in your life. Turn to him and trust him, he will not share anything that you don't want shared. 

About three years ago, changes were happening in my life that I wasn't ready for. I let doubt and fear creep in and eventually it started to take over my mind. For a time period every thought I had was fear and feeling like I wanted to run away from the world. I felt I didn't have anything to offer. This lead me farther away from God, giving Satan more power to take over my thoughts.

Thankfully one day, something just clicked. I knew I wanted to connect to heavenly father, but how? I started using a prayer journal. I would write down questions I wanted to ask Heavenly Father. At this point in my life, my prayers were very simple. I would say "Heavenly Father, what is one thing I can change to draw closer to thee?" "Heavenly Father, how can I get rid of my doubts?" "Heavenly Father, I want to believe, but I don't fully right now Please help me to see the truth and what I have to offer."

I would then write down the thoughts that came to my mind after the prayers. I started noticing that all the thoughts to the questions were things I knew in my heart all along and Heavenly Father helped me to start seeing the light again.

My point with this story is the closer we draw to God, the more we can view our infinite worth that has been there all along. In fact, your spirit has known your worth all along. YOUR SPIRIT KNOWS THAT YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE AT THIS MOMENT. The struggle is getting our mind to believe what our spirit already knows. 

Overcoming self-depreciation is a process, but absolutely one that is attainable! It will come through diligence in studying out your divine nature and the spiritual gifts that Heavenly Father has blessed you with. 

Please know that Heavenly Father loves you so much and if you are having a hard time feeling that, I believe in the power of priesthood blessings. I have had to receive a few in my life to be reminded of my own worth.

I pray that something I said struck you & inspired you to see a different perspective. 

Love always,
Ashley Marie

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#AerieREAL - Why I support this campaign

My passion and purpose in this life is to empower girls to have strong self esteem and confidence. When I heard that Aerie, a sister company to American Eagle launched a new campaign called "Aerie Real," I knew immediately that I wanted to jump on board.

Images in the media have a HUGE influence on the way girls portray themselves.

The more I study girls self esteem and the more I gain a stronger passion to do something about it, the more I have been thinking and analyzing the example I am setting to be a role model for them. This is the reason I changed my profile pictures from Twitter and Facebook.

A few weeks ago, the picture below was the image I used for everything. Guess what? This photo has been photo shopped. The lighting, my hair volumized, a thinner's simply not the real me.

To be honest, sometimes I would stare at this picture and think, what would it take to become THAT girl in this image? I would critique myself for not being able to obtain the image captured in this altered picture. What a waste of time on something that doesn't even matter. Why strive to be the impossible? Beauty isn't flawless, it never has been. 

No one in the entire world has ever been born perfect - perfect hair, perfect body, perfect skin - none of this can exist without a ton of work, surgeries, money, time, effort and photo shopping. So why is the media so obsessed with making girls appear effortlessly perfect?

We were given bodies to use as instruments. We use them to eat, run, laugh, work, and play. Our bodies were never meant to be ornaments that are decorated and admired by all.

Be proud and confident of your body just the way it is! If you want to workout, great!
But do it for the right reasons!

I've been on a workout routine the past several months. Why? Because I want to be healthy. I want to be the girl that proves she is stronger than she appears to be. I want to be the girl that sets goals and knows how to achieve them. My favorite part about working out is realizing that I am capable of so much more than what I tell my mind. If you work out, do it for YOU - don't do it to impress anyone else!

Thank you Aerie for not altering images. 
Thank you for giving girls permission to be real.
Thank you for allowing girls to feel good about what they look like from the inside out. 
Thank you for not retouching what was already beautiful!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

3 Lessons We Can Learn From Robin Williams

While some are writing and reflecting on the death of Robin Williams and the way he left this life, I've been thinking a lot about all the incredible positives that lived within him.

3 Lessons We Can Learn From Robin Williams

1. Don't EVER let the words or beliefs of others, hold you back from your potential

Robin Williams was voted 'least likely to succeed' by his classmates in High School. As you and I both know, he turned out to be VERY successful. He is very well known for his comedy and he was loved and admired by SO many.
Robin Williams won a total of 46 Awards and he was nominated for 63 other awards.
How's that for least likely to succeed? He sure showed them.

Imagine if he had let his classmates words define his future... 
There would be no Disney's Genie.
We would not have known the classic Mrs. Doubtfire. 
Hook would be a stranger to us.
Where would we be without Popeye?
And the inspirations of Good Will Hunting wouldn't exist.

If someone doesn't believe in you, if you feel bullied, alone or out of place - please don't listen to those around you. Hold on tight to the dreams in your heart, they are placed in your heart for a reason and a purpose. 

2. Be bold, be different and don't ever change that

Robin Williams is a legend. He is a comedic classic. Full of talent in a very unique way, Robin was bold and real and no one in the world can ever take his place. He was absolutely perfect at staying true to himself and being the original he was born to be. 

If you feel you are a bit different from the world, embrace that. It's not a disability, it's a gift.
Be proud of who you are as a person. Don't ever let anyone tell you who you should or shouldn't be. Be the REAL you and stay true to that. That is how you will be remembered. Your variance in this world is how you will go on to do such great things. Be bold and unique! If you believe in things that are different from those around you, stay true to your convictions.

The most important thing about being different though, is to be confident in the way you stand out from the crowd. Every person on this earth was born an original, hang on to everything that sets you apart from the world and never let any one dim that light of yours.  

3. Being shy and quiet does not have to hold you back

Shyness and introversion are qualities that are usually looked at as a negative connotation in our society. Robin Williams actually described himself as introverted, quiet, and absorbent. These beautiful qualities that he possessed, never ever held him back from chasing his dreams, despite what his mind and the world around him may have been telling him. He was very shy in high school and he didn't even start to break free from this until after participating in the high school drama department. He then went on to be accepted into the freshman class of Juilliard among only 19 other students.

While he could have let his shy nature define his life for him, he branched out and got involved, following his passion and becoming an incredibly famous actor.

The power is in YOU to know that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to. No matter what qualities or "disabilities" you think you have, please know that it will only be a disability if you allow it to be. When the world is telling you that you are too quiet or you don't fit in, decide to be your own cheerleader and believe in yourself when no one else in the world will. Stand tall and stay true to you.

Thank you so much Robin Williams for the setting the example for individuals everywhere to chase your dreams and follow your heart no matter what setbacks may come your way.
You will be deeply missed!

Monday, August 11, 2014

26 beautiful life lessons {A Birthday reflection}

{This shirt/pic is a sneak peak for an upcoming post}

I'm 26 today. Birthday's are a beautiful chance to review life. I've been thinking tons about all the lessons I've learned in my 26 years. I don't know everything, but I know these things for sure.

P.S. I'll be doing 26 acts of kindness today. Feel free to join in and find others to serve. Every act has the ability to have a ripple effect that could go on and influence SO many lives.

26 Beautiful things I know:

1. Karma is real. Give everything you can into the world with the right intentions and you will be so blessed for it.

2. The only opinion of yourself you should ever care about is your own.

3. You are ALWAYS more capable of going farther than your mind tells you is possible.

4. Never ever ever make a choice only to please someone else.

5. You will NEVER have anything you don't go after.

6. You often go through specific trials so you can help someone else with that exact trial down the road.

7. Keeping a daily record of tender mercies you see in your life reminds you just how blessed you are and that God's hand really is in EVERYTHING!

8. People come into our lives for a reason. Open your eyes to see what that person has to teach you and what you can do to bless their life as well.

9. Comparing yourself to other people destroys everything you have to offer. You are different for a reason and if you embrace that you will find that everything you ever needed or wanted was in you all along.

10. There is no set out form of beauty. Beauty is all in the eye of the beholder.

11. Life is too short to be wasted dreaming to be somebody else! You are the only YOU and that is remarkable, embrace it.

12. It's impossible to measure the extent of our influence. You have the potential of making a huge impact on others & you may never even know.

13. Sometimes it rains so we can learn to appreciate the sunshine more!

14. When given adversity, you can choose to let it define you or you can allow it to refine you - the choice is yours!

15. Our trials in this life are so often our blessings in disguise.

16.  There is no station for happiness. It's not graduation, not marriage, not children, not retirement. You have to choose to be happy NOW!

17. If you are doing something big - people will always rain on your parade! So just keep going!

18. Happiness comes from faith.

19. Tears are a gift from God. An opportunity to let him cleanse our spirit & heal our heart.

20 You can’t push your purpose. When you are ready and prepared, your purpose in life will come to you…naturally and you WILL KNOW! Your purpose will be the thing that drives you to get out of bed in the morning. It will be the one thing you just can’t stop thinking about that drives you to be better and work harder.

21. People are watching you & looking up to your example. Usually the people you would least expect.

22. Miserable people think about themselves - Happy people think of others.

23. A broken heart takes time to heal. Be patient and give yourself the time needed.

24. The moment your heart goes from peaceful to conflicted, you need to reevaluate something.

25. Love others FIRST - forget about them loving you in return!

26. You can't please everyone to get everyone to like you. It will only hurt you. Even Christ had enemies. It means you stand for something!

P.S. This idea was inspired by The Shine Project

Friday, August 8, 2014

High School success - An interview with Marisa Combs

Marisa Combs graduated from high school this past May. She will be attending Franklin College this fall to study Special education and minor in Spanish to be a Special Ed. teacher and a Spanish teacher.

1. Where does your ambition come from to do well in school?

My ambition to do well in school comes mostly from my parents, they are both teachers. My parents motivate me, as they are excellent role models. They are very ambitious people and they both have taught me how to be ambitious. I live in a town where not very many people who graduate from high school, go on to college. My ambition comes from them, they show me how not to be. They show me that I don't want to be living off of my parents for the rest of my life. Because of them, I strive to be ambitious and to use that ambition to be successful in school and work my butt off.

Also what motivates me to do well is that I know if I work hard now; that work will pay off in the long run. With my hard work, I will be more successful and not be living in my parents basement.

2. How do you stay dedicated?

I stay dedicated by making small goals for myself. For example, if I do really bad normally on tests, I make a goal for myself to get a B on the next test. I also stay dedicated by studying a little each night. I rewrite my notes constantly, maybe 3 or 4 times. I add information, remove information, etc. It helps me to stay on top of my studying.

I am really good at staying dedicated to things, so in general I do stay dedicated to my studies. Sometimes I do get off track and get really lazy, but I keep telling myself that staying dedicated will pay off in my future.

3. What is your best homework and studying advice?

My best homework and studying advice is to do your HOMEwork AT HOME. Trust me. You have more time and silence to actually think to get your homework and studying done. Also notes are a lifesaver. Write them constantly. Like I mentioned before, it helps you memorize the material so much better and keeps you actually doing something while you are studying and not just sitting there staring at the book.
My other piece of advice is to PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Yes. I sounded like your mother. I am guilty of being on my phone instead of doing my homework. You will get too distracted and not go back to studying or doing your homework and just give up and do it the next morning. Don’t put yourself in that pickle. You think you have time but you actually end up having zero time. Karma is great at doing that.

4. What times of day did you find you worked best?
I find that I work best during school hours, because I am already in that mindset and already focused. When I have a free period, I go to school library and study. I also focus better in the evening after dinner. Because my house is the quietest at that time. My family is pretty loud, so that time is my favorite time to study at home, because I can actually get something done.
5. What was your biggest struggle to get through school?
My biggest struggle to get through school is that I am worried that I stay “too dedicated” and get really tired of studying and keeping up with everything. There are times that honestly, I don’t give a hoot about school. I get really really lazy and procrastinate.

6. If you could tell girls anything to help them do better in school, what advice would you give them?
If I could tell girls anything to help them do better in school, it would be to study, study, study. Also have fun while you are in school. High school, college etc. Be dedicated, but not too dedicated, because you get so wrapped up in school that you have zero fun. Also I would tell them even when the teacher says “Don't write this down” ,do! If it seems important always write it, because most likely, it will show up on a quiz, test, assignment, etc. and you will forget about it, then you'll be mad at yourself for not writing it down. Trust me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

High School & College Success: An interview with Kayla Hollatz

In honor of the beginning of a new school year just around the corner, the rest of this week will be features from very successful students to inspire you to do well in school! The power is in YOU to become successful and we are tapping into some very smart students to find out how they do it.

I had the honor of interviewing Kayla Hollatz. She is a senior studying Public Relations at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She currently works as the Senior Communications Specialist of her university's IT department and is the Public Relations Manager of ThinkSEM, an online marketing startup. She is also the creative blogger behind her newly rebranded blog.

Be sure to stop by and say Hi!

1. Where does your ambition come from to do well in school?

Part of my ambition comes from how I grew up. My parents were frequently involved in my academics and I learned early on how important it was to strive for success in school. I've always been determined and spent much of my time in high school studying and taking college level courses. This allowed me to be in the position I am in right now, which is graduating a semester early despite transferring universities and changing my major. Without my ambition, I wouldn't be where I am today. 

2. How do you stay dedicated?

I think my dedication comes from thinking about the future. I like having many career options and without dedication, it just doesn't happen. I'm a forward thinker so I'm always thinking about what's coming next. If that means sacrificing some time now to make way for a fruitful future, I am willing to do it.  

3. What's your best homework & studying advice?

Quickly learn what kind of homework or studying environment is best for you. If I could pick any way to study, it would be to have music on and study with friends, but my brain doesn't retain information that way. I have to sacrifice those potential distractions so I can stay focused on the task at hand. 

4. What times of day did you find you worked best?

I've realized that I work best right after class in the early afternoon. That way, I don't put off my work and make it more of a chore than it needs to be. For creative writing specifically, I work best late at night, but I don't do it out of procrastination. I like to get my work done early so I can use the night to relax and do the things I am most passionate about like poetry, singing, and blogging.

5. What was your biggest struggle to get through school?

The balance between school, homework, working, and trying to still have a social life was difficult for me. To be honest, it still is. I haven't found the perfect formula yet, but I think it differs for every person. I'm still trying to discover mine. 

6. If you could tell girls anything to help them do better in school, what advice would you give them?

Don't compare your academic journey to anyone else's. I wish I would have focused more on my personal growth rather than comparing my study habits and grades to other people around me. Do your best and be proud of what you can do. Celebrate your high grades and learn from your low test scores. Don't be too hard on yourself. You are well on your way to success!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Daughter of God

I know with all of my heart that I am a daughter of God, sent to this earth as part of his divine plan. I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each and every one of his daughters. Women in the church have a special and divine purpose, a power to influence and love deeper than any could imagine. I have complete faith in the roles Heavenly Father has given his daughters to fulfill. 

I know Heavenly Father loves each and every one of his daughters so much. We have been given the gift of the spirit to guide us through life. It is has been such a blessing in my own life to be able to rely on the direction and guidance of the spirit when I feel doubt or need discernment in the choices I'm making.

I have had times in my life where I felt  weak or like I just couldn't go on any more. I know we aren't meant to do this thing called life alone. When I turn my heart to Christ and rely on his atonement, his love for me pours out! He loved each one of his children so much, he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we could know true happiness, peace, and strength, and have the opportunity to live with our Father in Heaven again.

I know Heavenly Father has a divine and eternal plan for his daughters, he wants so much for you to receive the noble birth right he has to give when you live valiantly. He has so much in store for his daughters. I am so grateful for the love that I feel out pour from him when I living righteously and surrendering my will to his. I testify with all my heart, that he loves each and every individual person on this earth, we are his spirit children. 

I know that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God and it is our instruction book to guide us back to live with him. I know that prayer is the greatest blessing we have on this earth, the ability to call upon him and when we are willing to reach up, he guides and blesses us more than we could ever imagine. Prayer is our ultimate guidance. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and I am grateful for his great faith to restore the gospel here on this earth. I know temples were put on this earth as a way to serve God, but also as a peaceful place to escape from the world and feel the spirit so strongly.

I know that we are all on this journey, going through trials and temptations so that we can ultimately become warriors of our own story. Turn your heart to Christ when you feel alone. Call upon Heavenly Father through prayer often for guidance and reassurance of his love for you. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church and I have seen Heavenly Father bless my life countless times.