My Mom, My Guardian Angel, RIP.

I had to take a break from writing for a little while. On December 28, 2014, I lost my mom due to liver failure. She had been sick for a while, but I got a call on Thanksgiving Day with news that it was advanced, that there was nothing else that could be done, and that it was time to think about spending time with her and making her comfortable. That is not the kind of call you want to get from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day. But we did what we had to do and was able to spend time with her after the hard news.

It has been a rough holiday season for me. This was undoubtedly the most difficult thing I have ever experienced, and it still is. She was my rock, my role model, and my best friend. I depended on her so much, emotionally. It’s crazy the things that you go through when you lose someone so important. There’s this period where you have to get used to a new normal.

It sucks. She was only 57 and my sisters and I are much  too young to lose her and have to go through this. But I think about how many people don’t get to say goodbye to their loved ones. I think about all the people that grow up without even ever having a mom. I am fortunate enough to have many memories, many lessons that I learned from her, and tangible items that prove that she was a very loving mom. She always put forth so much effort to show us how much we meant to her.

Senior PhotoMom and dad

We had a memorial for her on Jan 3rd and an impressive number of people came to pay their respects. She would have been pleased.  She didn’t want to do the whole sad funeral thing. It just wasn’t her style and I don’t blame her for that. She wasn’t very traditional and liked things to stay humorous and light hearted.

There’s so much more I could talk about, but now isn’t the time for me to go into very much detail. There’s still a bit of healing for me to do, but in appropriate time, I will be telling our stories, and I have her permission. She knows how much I loved writing. I got it from her, after all. It’s one the major ways I will be honoring her and carrying on her talents and passion for writing as well.

As hard as all this is, I am lucky to have other loving and supportive family and friends that are helping. I know that my mom wouldn’t want me to sit around feeling sorry for myself. She would be pretty pissed off if she found out I let this take me down. She would want me to keep kicking ass and taking names in this life, so that’s what I’m going to do.

I love you, mom!

IMG_0086IMG_0067IMG_0424IMG_0425

 

Thinking Critically And Writing For Readers

It has always kind of bugged me when bloggers write “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while!” and then go on to explain about how busy they have been. First of all, don’t apologize. You sound silly when you do – it’s just a blog. Your followers aren’t going to scold you for not having posted in a month or more. Second of all, most of them probably don’t care a whole lot. It’s true, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy reading your stuff when you do update.

It was my intention to take a short hiatus from posting here, and that’s because I wanted to learn to be a better writer. I started looking at my old posts and realized how much of it I wanted to delete, because it’s just not up to my own standards anymore. Not only have my writing standards have been changing, but so has my focus for this blog and well as my views on topics I like to write about.

For the past few months, I have been sitting back and doing a lot of reading online. I have discovered new blogs – some I love and some with worldviews I will never agree with. I have just been taking it all in and listening to different sides of the story. On one hand, I have been itching to comment on their posts or write my own about certain things… like the viral street harassment video, for example, but instead of just writing another opinionated post in a sea of others that are identical to mine, I want to try to offer a different perspective. I never want to be one of those people who form a one sided view on a topic they spent five minutes thinking about and then go write an article about it like I have all the answers. I would much rather be well informed about the issue and offer a well thought out piece that people can actually get something out of.

I don’t want my writing to be, “Here’s what I think about this topic. Read it because I’m important!” I want people to actually feel like reading my post was worth their time. I realized that required me taking a back seat for a while and listen instead of doing all the talking. I have been thinking more critically about things regarding relationships between men and women and how we all relate to each other, human psychology, equality, sexuality, politics, women’s rights, men’s rights, social justice, and even feminism. After reading from different opposing viewpoints, I can say that some of my views have slightly changed and some of them have stayed the same and are even stronger than before. I still don’t have all the answers, but I am coming closer to having a clearer aim and perspective that I will be writing a lot more frequently on in the near future.

What Guys Wish They Could Tell Girls Without Looking Like An Asshole

secret (1)

We have all been curious about the male mind at some point, and we have all had suspicions about what guys could be holding back when it comes to what they really think about us and other things that we would want to know, or at least what we think we want to know. That’s why I decided to go into the minds of six groups of anonymous men to answer the question, “What are some things guys wish they could tell girls without looking like an asshole?” Although some of their responses may be a little unsettling to hear, they responded with the kind of honesty that most of us will never hear face to face.

On Women And Their Weight

“If you are overweight, take extra care of how you dress. There are certain things you can wear to flatter your form. Stay away from showing lots of skin.”

“Fat women always want to complain about how men should accept them. Sorry to burst your bubble but we can’t really help who we are attracted to, and most men just don’t find fat women attractive. It’s just not in our nature so stop demanding that we find you sexually appealing, it just won’t happen like that.”

“No, that dress doesn’t make you look fat. You look fat because you have gained weight. Please don’t let it get out of hand.”

Bottom Line: Guys find it attractive when girls appear to be healthy. We can probably agree that it’s good to take care of our health and our bodies. Don’t obsess over your weight, but do make an effort for fitness.

On Your General Appearance

“Sometimes we just want to compliment your body without you freaking out and calling us pigs. We’d like to be able to spontaneously say, “Nice boobs, ass, shape, etc.” What’s so wrong with that? It doesn’t mean we don’t also like your eyes, smile, or personality.”

“Your hair looks better long. Why did you cut it short? Grow it long again.”

“Okay, the outfit situation: I’m really easy to please in that regard, but then again most guys are. Leggings, yoga pants, short jean shorts, “skinny” jeans and tank tops, and short dresses are all good options… I think what guys hate is when their girl has a great body, she works out etc, and yet she dresses overly conservative.”

Bottom Line: Although looks aren’t everything, it does play a large role in attraction. Just remember that only you can decide for yourself what you are willing to compromise.

On Dating

“If you want to be an exclusive couple, we have to hear it from you and you have to hear us agree. Otherwise, we are probably still talking to other girls and will do so for as long as we can until we are sure you are someone we want to commit to.”

“Yes, we play games. We know that love shouldn’t be a game, but it just is. There’s a good chance you wouldn’t like us as much if we didn’t practice some sort of game.”

“Sometimes we’ll judge you if you agree to sleep with us right away. We’ll start to wonder how many other guys you’ve been with, and the idea of lots of men before us is a turn off. It actually makes us like you more if you play a little hard to get.”

Bottom Line: Things aren’t always what they seem, but if you practice good communication with guys, you can determine whether or not the two of you are on the same page and then decide if it’s good to continue on with the relationship.

On Our Behavior

“When you ask, ‘Where have all the good guys gone?’ we can’t help but laugh. You can find them in the friend zone where you left them. Girls never want to sleep with the good guys anyway. They are too busy hanging all over the assholes that will never commit. Good guys see this and they stop being so nice to you, and get more action when they do.”

“Yes, I was checking out that other girl, and yes I denied it when you asked me if that’s what I was doing. There’s nothing wrong with looking as long as you don’t act on it. I’m sure other guys check you out and you might check out other guys now and then, and I’m okay with that.”

“Conversations between guys can get pretty vulgar when no ladies are present. We’ll get into the dirty details about things that would probably make you blush or shake your head in horror. It’s just what we do.”

Bottom Line: Guys will change their behavior when they think it will impress their guy friends, a girl, or get her to see him as a potential partner. A little shame can be detected here, but sometimes guys will dodge bullets just to avoid setting us off.

On Your Behavior

“It seems that most of the stuff you post on Facebook and other social media is just for attention. Is it really necessary to post selfies every other day? I guess it works in getting you the attention you want from thirsty guys and girls with self esteem issues, but to the rest of us you seem kind of desperate.”

“Ask for what you want. Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!”

“Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.”

Bottom Line: These are perfect examples of how men and women think differently. There’s something to learn in each of these quotes so try to take it as constructive criticism instead of offensive insults.

Truthful, candid, and straight to the point!

While you may not like or agree with what these guys have to say, we at least have to give them credit for being honest, even though they were asked anonymously. And if you are honest with yourself, you can probably understand why they would omit some of these thoughts to us girls –we would be pretty pissed if these things were straight up told to our faces. But they aren’t the only ones that have secret thoughts lingering in the dark.

[This is my piece originally published today on Unwritten.]

My name is Ashley, and I’m a chronic overthinker.

I google and WebMD every abnormal health issue or bodily function – just to make sure.

“What do you want to eat?” is one of the most dreaded questions of the day.

I have nearly 100 posts sitting in my Drafts folder because I couldn’t make the final decision to hit Publish.

I have several different versions of some of my writing pieces because I’m not sure which one I like best.

I can’t listen to a song without analyzing the meaning of the lyrics and wonder what could have inspired them to write about it.

It often takes me 2 or 3 hours to fall asleep because my brain wants to contemplate the meaning of my life.

Most of the time, serious thought goes into every post on social media and all its possible outcomes.

I closely observe human behavioral patterns and sometimes attempt to diagnose them.

I dwell on the idea of death to the  point of panic, and then silently vow to take better care of myself and my loved ones in order to prolong life.

It’s hard for me to just accept facts. I have to know “why.”

I obsess about timing – always waiting for the right time to do things, and it’s never now.

I start many projects, but rarely finish them.

I immediately notice when someone is out of sorts, and try to figure out why.

Sometimes I’ll think so much that it gives me a headache or makes me tired.

overthinking-meme

The Importance Of Being Gender Neutral In Discussions

As a woman, I often talk about issues surrounding things that women are generally concerned about, ranging from serious topics to the trivial. In my experience with this, there is one important thing I have learned, and that is the concept of being gender inclusive when discussing sensitive subjects.

Aside from blogging, I am pretty active in commenting on other blogs and contributor communities.  I read a lot of content from others and think about the topic matter as well as the delivery from the author. One thing that seems to set readers off more than anything else is when they feel that their gender has not been acknowledged when it comes to certain issues.

For example, there are a lot of women bloggers that often talk about rape and domestic violence and how women are often victims to these crimes. It’s fine to write about these things considering how many women are being affected. However,  where they can go wrong is when they talk about them in a way that makes it seem as though men are never victims and women are never perpetrators – like in places where they make a list of warning signs for abusive relationships and every point starts with, “He tries to tell you what to wear” and “He gives you a curfew when you go out with your friends.” There’s no mention there of the idea that a woman could be an abuser.

Ok so let’s take into the account that they might not be doing this on purpose, considering that most people understand that men can be and are in fact victims of rape and domestic violence. I think it’s easy for women get caught up into the discussion from their own points of view and forget to mention how men can be included, and wherever there is a blog post like this, there will be men that will read it and take it at face value. I am even guilty of doing this on my blog, and there have been men that will comment and point it out, and I am glad they did. It made me think and realize that I needed to do a better job of considering the male pov and in some way make a note of it in my writing.

This isn’t just for the sake of being politically correct either. It’s for the sake of respecting the reality for men as well as women. We can’t normalize the idea that men are never victims of rape or domestic violence, and that’s essentially what we are doing when we always fail to mention it in our blogs and discussions with people.

Just something to think about next time.  

Why Women Need To Raise And Enforce Their Standards

Women of today are often complaining about how they can’t find any good men to date or settle down with. Either the guy is a jerk, or lazy and unmotivated, or has some other major flaw that prevents him from being good boyfriend material. It’s understandable that these ladies are unsatisfied, but could there be other reasoning for this other than there just not being any good men left?

The other day, I came across a post by James Sama called The Simple Way To Get Men To Put In More Effort. He highlights a probable explanation of why men could be putting in less effort into building relationships with women.

If a man’s goal is to get a date with a woman or to build a relationship with her after a couple of dates have already happened, we are seeing a decline in society of how much effort he must actually put in.

Why? Because women are accepting less. And therefore men are putting in less effort. And if a woman is too “hard to get,” men are being trained to think that there will be another woman who doesn’t require as much effort, so he can just change his focus if he wants to.

In conversations, women will tell you they have pretty high standards. They’ll talk about how they want a man with good character, intelligence, someone that knows how to treat a lady, has a good job, etc. However, only a small percentage of them follow through with those standards. Many women  end up taking whatever guy that shows interest and then once she realizes that he’s not her dream guy, she starts to think about ways she can encourage him to become what she has always wanted in a man.

If it seems like men aren’t putting in enough effort, it could be because they think they can get away with it, and a lot of times, they do… because women are letting it happen.

It’s time for women to start raising the bar. Instead of just saying they want good men, perhaps they could prove it by not getting involved with jerks, players, and bums that make little or no effort or don’t offer much else in a relationship. Just don’t give them the time of day or assume they are going to change.  And of course women should hold high standards for themselves too and make sure what they are bringing to the table is relative to what they want from a man in a relationship. It wouldn’t be fair to expect him to put in effort if she isn’t.

It’s time to think critically of our choices in relationships. Are you settling?  

 

Contemplating A New Domain Name

I just recently renewed this domain name for another year. I first registered loveashley.net in 2009 and I can’t believe it’s been that long already. When I came up with it, I thought it was perfect seeing as how I wanted a personal blog. In the last several months, I have tossed around the idea of changing the name in the future as the direction of my blog is also changing a little bit. I’m still not entirely sure how I would categorize it. I still want to keep the personal blog aspect of it and write about noteworthy events of my life, but also combine it with some of my writings on relationships, culture, and social issues. How would you define a blog like that? A “life blog” maybe?

I went ahead and renewed for one more year because I figured that if I were to change the name of my blog, it would take me the whole year to figure out what I would want to call it. I have a few ideas that I have written down, but one obstacle is that I really want a .com extension. Finding a domain name you like that is available in a .com is unlikely these days, which sucks so I might have to get more creative.  We’ll see how it goes.

I am looking for something that defines or resonates with the general feel of this blog and I’m open to suggestions on ideas for new domain names as well, so if you have any fun or creative words or phrases that you think are cool, throw them out there in the comments.

5 Male Bloggers I Follow

I once looked at my blog reader list and realized that I needed to add some diversity.  At the time, it was most lacking voices from a male perspective so I started digging around. I have managed to find a few gems.

 

1. James Michael Sama – This is the guy that most dudes should be taking notes from. James is a professional writer and speaker, and his blog tagline is “The gentleman is the new bad boy.”  His blog focuses on relationships between men and women where he offers advice from a true gentleman’s standpoint.

2. Single Dad Laughing – Dan is an amazing blogger and an amazing dad. This is a guy who picked up the pieces of his life and decided to do great things instead of letting bitterness get the best of him. His blog posts range on a variety of subjects, but he always manages to keep it quirky and interesting.

3. Good Men Project – A team of bloggers from a mostly male perspective, with some female voices as well. A wide range of topics can be found here, but they are all high in quality with great ideas and advice that both men and women can enjoy reading.

4. The Matt Walsh Blog  – Confession: This is kind of a hate-read item. Ok, so I don’t hate him, but I think about his blog in the same way he thinks about abortion.  He’s a self described Christian conservative, and it shows. He’s a radio personality gone political blogger, from a very judgey right wing perspective.  If that sounds like you, then you might enjoy his stuff.

5. The Manly Housekeeper – Mark hasn’t been actively posting in a while, but his blog is still worth reading. He is a husband who enjoys cooking, cleaning, and household tasks, and he lives to write about it. Definitely a great read for men or women.

I am always looking for new blogs to read, to if you think yours is someone you know has one that is worth taking a look at, leave a link in the bottom. Sometimes my comments go into spam moderation, so it might take a few minutes to show up.

 

How Men Can Avoid Being Nagged By A Woman

It has become typical for men to complain about women in their lives nagging them. When they were growing up, their mothers nagged them to get chores or homework done. When they are dating, their girlfriends  gave them a hard time about not calling or texting back when they promised. When they are married, they are hounded by their wives to get errands completed – or so this is their perception.

Many men are hypersensitive when it comes to being reminded of anything by a woman. Just one reminder about a task that needs to be taken care of automatically goes into nagging territory. He then becomes annoyed that she sounds a little too much like his mom or his boss.

The good news is that there is a way to avoid being the victim of incessant nagging. For example, when someone asks you complete a chore, you can:

  • Tell them whether you are going to do it or not. If it’s something you really don’t want to do, make a deal with them. Compromise.
  • If you agreed to do it, offer to let them know when you will. Example: “Yeah, I can do the dishes after our meal.”
  • Actually do it at that time. Don’t forget or carelessly put it off.
  • If there’s a reason you can’t complete the task at the time you said you would, let them know so they won’t feel the need to ask you about it again.

The failure to communicate is a big part of why nagging becomes a problem. As annoying as it can be, no one likes to have to nag someone else. Generally when a woman nags, it’s because she still cares. It’s when she is silent that he has something to worry about.

Random Things About Me

Most people guess that I am several years younger than what I really am.

My idea of the best date is going to a theme park.

I was in a calendar for  a local radio station.

Political position: Independent, with more liberal leanings

Religion: Agnostic

An introvert.

I have a fascination with skeleton keys.

And masquerade masks.

I often enjoy Disney and comic villains more than the hero.

Movie genre: I love psychological thrillers

I’m the oldest of four daughters.

My favorite band is Halestorm.

I love the literary and performing arts.

Humanist/Egalitarian

Never been married and no children as of yet, by choice.

I love Anne Taintor creations.

I’m short, 5’2.

In a relationship.

Non-smoker.

Drink only occasionally.

No tattoos, I doubt I will ever get any.

Other than being a writer, my other career choices would be musician, dancer, or psychologist.

 

If you want to know anything else, just ask. :)