“Isn’t this like the 4th time you’ve changed the name of your blog, Ashley?”
“Actually, mom- it’s the 5th.”
“Do people normally do that so much? And didn’t it used to be called Buttercup something?”
It did, in fact. Back in those ‘early days.’ Back before ButtercupBackpack, it was GratitudeCastle– about a “twenty-something girl living in New York and her quest for life and love..there and everywhere.” Three years have passed and I’m no longer a twenty-something girl–
I’m a thirty-something woman.. or girl… or whatever. But, my quest still remains.
So, you are now reading TravelWithCastle. I believe this is a permanent name (fingers crossed), at least for now. How can anything be totally permanent in life when everything constantly evolves…. and also when I am continually becoming something new?
I enjoy change. With my constant desire to get out into the world and see new things, meet new people and have new experiences, that may be obvious. I’ve moved 9 times in the past 9 years; I’m about to re-sign my lease, making this the first home I’ll have stayed in for more than 12 months since I was 21 years old.
It’s not that I am not content in life-quite the contrary. I possess a heart that is continually seeking. Seeking to grow and to change. Seeking to evolve into something more beautiful that houses more compassion. Seeking out inspiration and truth. This is why travel moves me; it is an integral part of my lifelong process of searching and learning. When I travel, I expand as a person.
Hence, my blog’s name change. When I started this journey of blogging about 4 years ago, I was a different person. I was living in Dallas, Texas, and had recently been through some trenches (some, self-inflicted and others, life-inflicted…but isn’t that the way ‘trenches’ normally go?) I was writing sometimes hours each day, and a friend suggested I start a blog.
“A blog — me?”
I didn’t know why anyone would be interested in what I had to say. What, even, would I say? But I started- just getting some thoughts down, thoughts without much direction… but they were still my thoughts launching out into the universe, and that was what mattered at the time.
I then moved to New York, and my whole world changed again when this city stretched me beyond what I ever thought was possible. In the first 3 months, I would swing between elated feelings of being on top of the world and feelings of desperation, trying to deal with how small I felt in such a big place with big people who all had bigtime ambition. I felt lost in this maze of humanity and drive, not knowing my place or what to do with any of the talents I was once so confident in.
Making it in New York City is by no means an easy task: the competition is fierce in every aspect, the cost of living often feels hard to justify and we all somehow become ok with living without a dishwasher, microwave, washer/dryer or privacy. But for every frustration this city can bring, it brings in equal measure inspiration and a feeling of being alive that is hard to understand unless you’ve lived here and experienced it for yourself. This city has been a steroid shot of evolution for me. It’s given me more grit and gratitude.. and daily, it ignites a fire in my soul.
Some people seem to know from an early age what ‘career path’ they want to go down. For me, it’s been a process of getting to know myself. Of putting enough mud- or whatever- up on the wall and seeing what makes sense as I’ve evolved. Since I’ve been in New York, I’ve taken acting classes… and memoir classes… and language classes… and childrens’ book writing classes. To some, this may seem void of focus. For me, all of my exploration is what has given me direction.
The name changed several times and temporarily landed on Jetsetcastle.com, as I narrowed my focus to writing about travel and how it changes us as people, giving us fuller, richer lives. The name Jetsetcastle served me well, but I’ve realized that it doesn’t really reflect what I am about. I’m not really one who jetsets, which is defined as:
An international social set made up of wealthy people who travel from one fashionable place to another.
I enjoy a nice hotel like the rest of you. On my recent Trip Around the Globe with Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome, we stayed at places like the luxurious Peninsula in Beijing. But my norm is not to jetset; when I travel, I desire to get as deep into the culture as I can and to meet the people who reside there, rather than staying pool-side next to fellow tourists who are drinking a Manhattan in Mumbai (although those conversations can be stimulating in their own right). With each journey, I seek to have my perspectives deepened, altered and renewed.
I invite you to travel along with me– to Travel With Castle— and for us to change and grow deeper, together. With each day, I become increasingly aware that life is a process. I will be on a quest for the rest of my days– I hope that you open your heart to all that life has to offer and join me.