Rock it Like a Kardashian, Damnit.

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!

New Yorkers come out of hibernation in the spring and summer- it's glorious!

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.

While we're on the subject of thighs...

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.

There are those Kardashian girls!

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.

She's proud of the junk in her trunk!

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.

They were stunners, even with a bowl cut and an embroidered velour jumpsuit.

Thanks to whoever in my gene pool gave me these eyelashes- please don't ever thin and fall out!

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.

Writing as the sun comes close to setting along the Hudson River in NYC

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.

In a Tibetan Refugee Camp in India- this trip was one of beauty and reflection.

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.

Stick-thin probably couldn't do this... and 6ft. couldn't win an Australian limbo contest, so I'm happy to be me!

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.

On La Rambla in Barcelona

Jumping behind the Skogafoss waterfall with friends in Iceland

Hanging with Houdini in Australia

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.

A reminder written in the black volcanic sands of Iceland

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6 Responses to Rock it Like a Kardashian, Damnit.

  1. Holly kaiser says:

    I love this and am so encouraged by you! I, too, struggle with holding myself to an unattainable standard. Yet I beat myself up every time i fall short of this standard. It’s destructive and it’s time I take control of my thoughts, not vice versa. So on that note, here are 5 things I like about myself…
    1. I love my lips – they are full and naturally have a slight curve upwards. I hope to keep them like this as long as possible!!
    2. I love how I love beautiful things. I know one may say that everyone loves beautiful things, but I get it. It’s in me and I truly appreciate the tiny details. They say God is in the details and I belive it for sure. I love the lovely.
    3. I love that I’m smart. This has been hard to “own” but I’m pretty stinkin smart! I had the highest math average in highschool in my junior year…99.
    4. I love how it’s easy for me to truly trust God in life. I’ve been through hell throughout various times of my life, but during each season I had my God to lean on and help me through. I can’t imagine going through this life “alone.”. It’s way too hard.
    5. Finally I love my height. At 5’9″, I love how most everything fits me well. I can hide a few extra pounds well when I’m craving cake for breakfast and look stunning when I’m in my best shape.
    Wow that felt good!!! Thank you sweet friend for encouraging us to do this. I am ready to really own life and not let it dictate me. I’ve always heard that life is only 10% of what happens to us and 90% how we respond. I’m running with that!

    • Ashley Castle says:

      Holly! I LOVE that you shared this! You are all of these things- a woman of grace and beauty, truly lovely. Gorgeous, kind-hearted, loyal, compassionate, empathetic… I love that you are in my life and am so grateful to call you friend!

  2. kelly ann beavers says:

    i love every bit of this! i’m going to write a post in response!

  3. Erin Greico says:

    Hey Ashley–love your writing and the positives that you are filling yourself with and encouraging others to do the same. Unfortunately in this world today, we fall into the trap of believing lies about ourselves, our lives, and care too much about what others think. So here are mine (I have to admit it is hard to write them for fear of “bragging,” but if I truly believe that I am made in God’s image, then that is a great thing and I believe He gives us all unique qualities to love him and others around us.
    I love that I can adjust to hard situations. I moved away from “home” to follow my husband and do what was best for our family, and it has been such a challenge, but I have embraced more than I thought I could. And when I was tempted to say “I want to go home, it’s too hard,” I chose to embrace where I was and see how I could make it better.
    I love that I am a mom of 3 boys. Not that I would not be happy with girls, but I do not have a “need” to have a girl just to have a girl. I love that they treat me as the “queen” of the house and experience so much joy from the love of all the boys in my life.
    I love the machine my body is and what it is capable of. I work out a lot and hard and know it is a privilege to do this and a temple to take care of. I love that the body God gave me is capable of expanding to hold babies and shrinking again, and that it served to protect and nourish each one of my boys.
    I love my arms (some may think they are “too muscular” but I love them)
    I love that I am empathetic. If I see someone upset and crying, it’s not long before I am crying as well with them.

    • Ashley Castle says:

      Erin- thank you so much for sharing! I loved reading your response, and I so loved hearing all of the things that you love about yourself. You are all of those things, such a gorgeous woman inside and out– I really look forward to hooking up with you in person, hopefully sometime soon! xo

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