Reflections on Life, Love & The Olympic Games

Can you remember where you were four years ago during the 2008 summer Olympics?  What were you doing when Michael Phelps scored his 8 Gold Medals and America’s sweetheart, Nastia Lukin, became the All- Around Women’s Gymnastics champion?


Four years ago, the life that I knew was crumbling around me and I felt scared, confused and alone.  Yet, I was also filled with hope for the life I knew that was ahead.  I was at a family reunion in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, my entire family tucked into my aunt’s living room watching Beijing’s magic unfold.  I’d slip out through the garage door for some moments to myself and take long walks in the crisp summer Minnesota air.  As I walked down that silent country road, I could only hear the wind whipping through the long grass before I felt it blow peacefully through my soul.  Those were deep moments of change in me.

Since Usain Bolt last crossed the finish line, so much has transpired in my life.  I am sure you could say the same.  There Olympic games resonate with us for many reasons, and one of the biggest, I’ve found, is how they put a bookmark in our lives and bring us to a time past.  Watching these London games now, we know how much change the past four years have brought.

Since August 2008, I’ve experienced the pain and heartache of loss, I’ve traveled through Belgium and the Netherlands, returned to Europe for a surprise trip to Spain, backpacked through a India for a month and found new love unexpectedly in the aisles of a grocery store….

In Belgium, during the wintertime

On Las Ramblas in Barcelona….

Walking through gardens in India..

At an orphanage in Northern India– I wish I could get back there right now and see those kids.

Stace and me, before embarking on the 22 hour trip to Delhi

I’ve rafted through Utah, salsa’ed in Santa Fe, learned to wakeboard in the Poconos, drank Pinot in Portland and sipped a latte in Seattle…

Rafting through the gorges of Utah- breathtaking

Jenn and me at a vineyard in Oregon

I got my own apartment in Dallas for the first time in my life, commuted back and forth to New York in a long-distance relationship, had a 10 year high school reunion and became Beyonce for the evening…

The first place I could call my own… loved this apartment!

Re-living our Head and Co-Head Cheerleader Days at LCHS, 10 years later

And a little more of the glory days… 3 time All-American, baby.

Getting our Single Ladies on…

I’ve witnessed the miracle of life with the birth of my nephew, Peyton Christopher, who was born at just 23 and 1/2 weeks of life, and  I’ve watched him grow into a strong little boy who I love so dearly…

Our fighter, Peyton Christopher, just a day or two after he was born. Love this little boy so much– sometimes I can hardly believe this was him, now that he’s such a strong little boy.

Peyton got to come home just in time for Mother’s Day… and what a special Mother’s Day it was!

On his second birthday, a healthy and giggling little boy!

I drove a 14 and 1/2 ft. UHaul truck by myself to New York City and made a new life here and beautiful, new friends, went to Paris on a pop-up trip with my new gal-pal Karen, lounged in Iceland’s geothermic pools,  got a really bad spray tan before an amazing trip to Hawaii….

After 2 days of driving this truck solo, 4 dead battery instances and some other ‘memorable move stories,’ I finally saw that beautiful NYC skyline!

My dear Karen and me in Paris!

You scoop the mud from the bottom of these pools and put it on your face. Some people may like it, but it totally broke me out in a rash. Oh well, it was an experience.

I included this purely for your entertainment. Yes, this really did happen. Don’t worry, a good amount of it washed off the next day.

At Diamond Head in Honolulu

I’ve swam with stingrays in the Caribbean, lept through New England’s fall, survived several NY winters…. visited my long-time friend Chrisi in Panama, went on a girls trip to London…..

In the Cayman Islands… I’ve never seen water like this. Clear as far as the eye can see.

In the forests of Maine..

Knee deep in Washington Square Park

In Panama with my long-time friend, Chrisi

Jumping in the fields of London with Sabrina and Mel

I’ve lost love and went to another family reunion alone, flew to Australia by myself for an unknown, life-changing journey along the blue waters of its Eastern coast, conquered a fear and realized a dream in the same day,  learned to scuba dive….

In Byron Bay at the most easterly point of Australia

Conquering the BIGtime fear…

And realizing a massive dream…

Diving in the Whitsunday Islands

I found love once again and realized it was closer than I had thought, returned home to a city and to friends who I love dearly, turned 30 years old and didn’t mind a bit, got a new job, moved again (for the 9th time in 9 years), traveled to Lisbon, Portugal on a quick trip…. and ate immeasurable amounts of ice cream…. and lost love, again.

I am beyond thankful for the friends in my life!

No better way to ring in a birthday than with a Magnolia cupcake!

In beautiful Lisbon

There are so many more just like this, but not enough room to add them all….

What a difference four years of life can make.

So as I sit on my couch, watching women’s sand volleyball USA vs. Argentina playing on the t.v., I think of all that has transpired in these past 4 short years and I can’t help but wonder what my life will look like come summer 2016.  Where all will I have traveled to at that point? What will happen in my life relationally?  Could I have a child by then?? (I can hear my sweet mother now– ‘well Ashley, you will be 34- almost 35 then’… yes mom, I know)… Where I will be in my career?  What will my life hold?  While I don’t know the details- that is what makes life the wonderful journey that it is- I do hope for happiness, prolonged health for myself and those in my life, to have a plethora of rich new experiences and to be surrounded by love.

And as always, I hope all of this for your lives as well.  Carpe Diem.

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