The last few years have been really, really great. As always, I’m doing a lot of ‘reflecting’ this time of year, and thanks to Facebook, I can literally see and recap my memories from all the years past from my first year of joining the social media world. For instance, on this day in 2017, I was blessed to be staying home with my two children. We learned about the letter A, Pierson created an out of this world amazing spider art piece, and we played at the park. I had over half of a YEAR staying home with my amazing children. I wasn’t in a classroom with other peoples’ kiddos, I was creating a classroom in our HOME for our very own Pierson and Reese. In 2018, one year ago, I was just beginning to experience some really awesome paid partnerships with brands, big and small, and some of my wildest dreams began coming true—ahem, I got a horse, no wait, TWO!! Also in 2018 my business as a whole took off. A few days ago, I closed my Golden Coil agenda, where I keep records of ALL my jobs, and I kind of sat there in disbelief. With the help of my husband, we basically earned a third salary, and it was the “side business.” The word hustle used to annoy me, but by golly that’s what we did last year and there’s no sense in being annoyed by it! No way Jose, I’m down right damn proud of how HARD we worked and how it paid off in the end.
Last Sunday at church our pastor spoke on the message of having a banner year, or a bummer year, and how neither should make or break us.
While very typically I tend to free-write (or journal) in church, this Sunday I was tuned in fully. (No offense to ANY of the teaching staff, please! I just love to write and often Sunday is when my head is most cleared and I feel like I can catch up. I’m a good multi-tasker, so I promise I listen + write.)
We as people, often get caught up in the destination of where we are going, right? We can so easily obsess about the vision and we ask ourselves ‘what is our motivation?’ Or we start to get super frustrated wondering WHERE we are going, and why we are walking the path that we are on. We want results. Immediate results. Or at least VERY quick ones, right?
When our pastor, Craig, brought up the question of ‘banner or bummer year,’ I was SO quickly brought back to Mother’s Day of this past year. I had my MOST traumatic [first ever really] horse fall, when I was brand new to horse ownership, and when I was just longing for everything to be so perfect. Plain + simple, that’s all I wanted. I now joke that I wanted unicorns + sunshine + roses, and I got the opposite.
Post-fall, I was faced with extreme fear. Heartache. Anxiety. Worry. Obsessive thoughts with the fear of failing. The question ‘are my dreams falling through?’ and ‘maybe I made a mistake.’ I am still reminded of many conversations with my mama; and how she gently reminded me that what I was facing would take TIME. “It’s like you’re watching a movie, Ashley, but you don’t really want to watch it. You want to fast forward and see how the movie ends. But you can’t do that… you’re going to HAVE to just be patient and watch.”
Did you know that I legitimately thought I would never be able to ride Paddy again? From May until September I rode him as best as I personally could. I rode 3 days a week in a 60-foot round pen, but each time I ventured out into the big open pasture, something would happen. He would spook, or throw a tantrum, or I would clam up in fear for absolutely no reason. Then he began to become really aggressive in the pasture, charging at us when we would walk in; even kicking Asa and almost hurting our small children. When I sought advice on what to do, I was told this: “I wish I had a great answer for you in what to do with him. Giveaway is the obviously the first choice and to find someone who won't sell him and you can keep close tabs on him. If that isn't possible, euthanasia is the second choice.” September 25th…I still have that e-mail. And euthanasia never even crossed my mind, scared or not! Praise JESUS for His opening of doors, of working the situation out so that I could move Paddy to my trainer’s farm, and that all of our issues from the get-go were apparently very environmental. I can now ride him without fear (so far.) In the vast open fields he and I have ridden and talked. I am in utter disbelief of this because as I said, I really didn’t know HOW I would ever really ride him again! His circumstances have changed greatly, and it blows all of our minds that that’s really all he seems to have needed. His and I story isn’t over, really it’s just beginning… but 9 months of owning Mr. Paddy and I now SEE the chapters unfolding. There is no fast forwarding or zipping to the end. I’ve been forced to wait and watch and pray and trust. (Thanks, Mom, for walking with me through this and always encouraging me to be patient.)
Which leads me to my Pastor’s next thought: the journey.
You and I both know that journeys are long. One definition says: “a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time.” While my last few years were really good, with some definite hardship mixed in, the years prior wouldn’t have been necessarily called my best years. One of the WORST years was 2006-2007, when I was striving to make my biggest dreams come true but in actuality, one of my worst nightmares was occurring. When I moved to Louisville in hopes of becoming a horse racing jockey, I KNEW the industry itself was tough for women. I emailed former jockeys, famous women jockeys at that, and had MANY in depth conversations. I remember thinking, “If I ever get involved in any of the crud that can happen at the track, I know that’s God’s way of telling me it just isn’t for me.”
Little did I know that I would endure months of sexual harassment from my one and only boss; the guy who was supposed to MAKE all my dreams come true with his promises that I could ride my dream race horses. I learned PRETTY quick that my skin was not thick enough to be working where I worked. That I could only be stared at for so long by other track workers, as they made special trips to the barn I was at to hoop and holler and whistle. But I suppose that’s a topic for another post, eh? My point here is this: the chapters in your story do not define who you are. I didn’t allow mine to overtake who I am, and you shouldn’t either.
And the fact that the past couple years have been really great, even that doesn’t define me. Those things and these milestones? The progress and the growth? ALL of them are words on the pages that make this next chapter.
What was 2018 for you, a banner or a bummer year? Maybe it was both, and it was equally good and bad. Wherever you are at today and in whatever situation, I pray you will trust the journey. Know that you were created very carefully by a loving and passionate God. Fast forwarding to the end of a movie ruins it doesn’t it? Let’s make a bowl of popcorn and try to enjoy the show—our show, called life.