Yesterday, I had a flash realization of sorts- an inspiring epiphany kind of moment- while sitting on the bright green spring grass in my bikini enjoying the 73 degrees hitting my skin. Whether or not global warming is causing this week’s high temperature in New York City of 79 degrees, I’m not sure- and to be honest, I don’t really care. Goodbye winter and pantyhose, enclosed spaces and furnace pipes so hot they burn my hands…. and hello rooftops, swimsuits, wedges and movies in Bryant Park!
As I was sitting there, I mentally caught my mind starting to dissect myself. Particularly, my thighs. This mental conversation, in past years, would have continued for far too long and would have told me that I could only eat broccoli that evening (followed by a binge of strawberry pop tarts, let’s be honest). I have grown enough that I recognize these destructive thought patterns pretty quickly, and within about 3 seconds I caught myself and was reminded that I actually love who I am and who I am becoming; those antiquated thoughts no longer have a space or home in my mind.
That realization filled me with the inspiration to put it out there to the world that Monday was LOVE YOURSELF Monday, and I asked the question to my Facebook friends to brag a bit and share one thing they loved about themselves. Many people ‘liked’ the post, I’m sure some thought I was crazy and that I’ve been listening to too much Tony Robbins, and others, I’m sure, wanted to post something but didn’t want to brag on themselves- after all, aren’t we supposed to be humble?
We live in a high-pressure world filled with comparison that abounds and demands for our beauty, our brains, our time, our soul. It feels hard to keep up sometimes, and if you are predisposed to perfectionism like I am, the battle of being overly self-critical is a constant one.
Which, brings me to the title of this post. I don’t watch TV, so unlike most of America, I am not keeping up with the Kardashians. I don’t know or care to know any more about Kim’s wedding debacle than what I quickly read in the grocery store line in US weekly (a guilty pleasure, I’ll confess), I know that Khloe is married to a guy named Lamar, and I recall from watching the show one time while on the treadmill at the gym that Kourtney married a douche bag. That’s about it.
But, there’s one area in which I really give Kim Kardashian credit. She rocks that tush of hers with confidence and walks into a room like she owns it. I don’t know about you, but if my rear assests were that ‘out there,’ I would be anything but thrilled. Especially if they were constantly on display. It’s her brand, I get it. Nevertheless, she’s still female- and while I’m sure some ladies would want an ‘ass that round,’ (thank you Sir Mix A Lot)– I know most would see it as a flaw. I like that Kim doesn’t, and I think there’s a lesson to be learned from her in that. I never thought I’d say I was learning something from Kim Kardashian, but I’m ok with it.
So, in the practice of loving, approving and accepting myself, I thought of 5 things that make me really happy to be Ashley Castle. It feels good to write them down (a “hell yeah!” kind of moment), so I hope you feel inspired to do the same- and when you do, I would love it if you would share yours with me. (And for those who are put off by thinking I’m being boastful, put down your judgements and get yourself some love- it will do you good.)
1. I love my kick-ass eyes and eyelashes
Everyone has at least 1 fantastic feature, and this is mine. I’m not sure where these come from in the genetic pool- I’ve yet to meet a person with the same color of eyes- light amber with a dark rim around them. My grandma said I got them from one of her sisters (she was one of nine children) but other than that clue they’re a mystery. I’ve never had eyelash extensions and hope that these puppies stay thick as I age.
2. I love the way in which I see the world
Is is a choice, or was I born with it? I’m not sure- I think it’s both. I am so grateful to have had the incredible influences in my life that have inspired me to see life as a gift and each day as something to cherish. I love being conscious in my own life and seeing the day as it passes with beauty. I feel highly present in my own life and in my experiences, and I’m thankful for that. Writing helps me to see the world with meaning, and it is the filter through which I process my thoughts and emotions. To me, that is a gift.
3. I love that I have had the courage to walk away from things, even when it was hard
I have news. I am far from perfect. I have made a lot of mistakes and done things I wish I could have taken back or reversed. In certain times of my life, there was no courage involved. Just pain, and from that pain- growth. But in that growth, I have also become stronger, and I seek to fill my life with relationships and things that are life-giving. For that, I am proud of myself.
4. I love that I have muscles and that I’m 5’4″ and 1/2
For years, I wanted to be something different. When I was a gymnast and cheerleader, I wanted to be shorter. When I got out of that world, I wanted to be taller. I’ve looked at other girls and wanted to be thinner. Now, I’m just really thankful for the body that I have- that it’s fit, healthy and that it works. I love being active and exercising everyday. I love having a knowledge of nutrition and treating my body well. Most of all, I have an inner peace knowing that after a long struggle, I finally feel comfortable in my own skin.
5. I love that travel is a part of me and that I’ve made it a priority in my life.
I took my first international trip the summer before my senior year in college, and seeing the world and other cultures changed my life. I knew I would never be the same. Since then, I have made travel a regular part of my life and have moved to Maui, Hawaii for a time and now New York, while traveling throughout Europe, to India and to Australia, amongst others. Many people have asked me how I’ve gone to all of the places that I’ve gone, and I really believe that when something is a priority to you, you find a way to make it happen. Travel is in me and will always be a part of my life while I’m here.
So now I ask you the same thing: what are 5 things that you really love about yourself? Things you love about yourself physically, spiritually, emotionally, or experientially – the things that make you, you? You have it in you- I know you do. We were all created for greatness. Go on– take a lesson from Kim. Don’t be afraid to brag a little.