Finally Changing Domain Names

I registered LoveAshley.net a few years back, and for the time it was the perfect name. It worked because I mainly used this blog as a personal diary and didn’t really have much of a niche besides writing about whatever inspired me. In the past year though, I have been doing more reading than writing –  just kind of taking it all in and figuring out what things I really want to write about and what voice I have in the topics that interest me.

I recently got a notice in my inbox that it was nearing time to renew my domain name, which is set to expire in June. About a year ago when I got the same email, I thought then about changing my domain name then, but I had no idea what would fit, partly because I was still lost in the direction of this blog.

Now things have changed and I want to narrow down the focus of what topics are going to be popping up here.  Nothing too major, but I want the main focus to be centered around relationships between men and women, more in the longer term aspects. After doing a lot of reading, researching, and experiencing, there are things I have learned that don’t seem to be vocalized enough, especially not from a particular perspective, so I have decided a slight re-branding of this blog will be a positive change. I will still go into topics about culture, society, psychology, sociology, gender relations and sexuality, so there is a lot of room for me to play with. Really, if you have only started reading this blog in the last year or so, it won’t be too much different, but I used to post a lot of personal poetry and musings before then (now privately published). Those thing will maybe be better on a different platform now.

When I make the switch, I will try to make it so that all links will just redirect to the new domain. This will probably be happening in the next month. Time for a fresh start! :)

Sheryl Sandberg And Rewarding Men For Bad Behavior

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I have been meaning to read Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will To Lead by Sheryl Sandberg for quite some time, but I was finally inspired  about a week ago to read through. There are a lot of good points and ideas made by Sandberg in the book, and it is something that is completely necessary for young women in our current times. More specifically, there are useful ideas about working women, romantic relationships, balancing gender roles, and defining boundaries inside and outside the home.

 Then there is this quote that I have a different take on:

“When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.” ― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

I completely agree on her point about good husbands, but to advise women  to deliberately date guys that are bad boys, crazies, and commitment-phobes is actually a horrible idea. Okay, I get it. The concept is to have fun while you are young before you lock it down with one man for better or worse, and I’m not advising against that. A lot of women want to date more casually and sow a few wild oats before they commit to marriage and married people all over the world would agree that it’s best to do that now rather than regret not doing it later on after they have gotten married.

However, my advice to women is that while on this journey in casual dating, they would be wise to completely avoid bad boys and any guy that doesn’t treat them well altogether. It’s understandable and likely that in a young woman’s life, she will meet and mingle with someone who at first seems nice, but then turns out to be a real turd. Yeah, shit happens and sometimes a girl will be in denial, but sometimes they know the guy is trouble and they continue messing with him. The next thing they know, they are ranting to their friends about what a douchebag he is. Then there are people like me who hear these rants and are thinking, “Gee. I’m sorry that your decision to date a bad boy resulted in a boy treating you badly, /sarcasm.”

Ignore bad boys. Don’t date them and definitely don’t have sex with them. Leave them to their right hand at night.  Sure, you might think he looks cool and attractive with his tattoos, piercings, motorcycle, and puppy dog eyes, but you’d only be wasting your time. He’s only going to screw you over and leave your frustrated. He’ll do things that bad boys do: Take forever to return your texts, flake on seeing you, randomly wanting to see you but only after 10 pm, break promises, give you lip, and act aloof. Why reward him for his shitty behavior with the gift of your time, attention, and sex? Doing so only encourages him to keep acting that way and it encourages otherwise good guys to start acting that way too.

It’s best if you know what signs to look for and as soon as you have identified him as a bonafide bad boy, jerk, or womanizer, immediately cut him off. This guy  needs to be put in his place and the only way to do that is through appropriate action. It won’t do any good to get all upset and yell at him, calling him a jerk. He will tune it out, and he won’t care about what you are saying because he’s still getting what he wants. Men respond to a woman ignoring him much better than they respond to her words. At that point, he’ll either start respecting you more since you put your foot down and showed him you aren’t putting up with his crap, or he’ll do you the favor of disappearing for good.

I’m not trying to tell women what to do. They should be making their own decisions, but it only makes sense to me that they stop giving these bad boys what they want and start rewarding guys for their good behavior instead. Keep the ultimate goal in mind and encourage men to start treating them with respect instead of treating them like crap. They would be better off, because trust me, bad boys aren’t worth it.

Sometimes I submit to Thought Catalog

Just a quick post here. I started writing articles for Thought Catalog about a year ago, just for the heck of it. Surprisingly, it has brought back quite a few followers to my blog, so I think I will continue to share some of my work between here and there.

More recently published was: Ladies, What Do You Have To Offer In Relationships?

And How To Know When A Woman Is Actually Independent

You can read the rest of them at http://thoughtcatalog.com/ashley-pariseau

Hopefully everyone is having a good weekend. :)

Boosting Motivation And Getting Back To Myself

Being self disciplined and motivated has been one of my biggest challenges in my adult years, and recently even more so since I lost my mom three months ago. Grieving is a process, and can be a long and winding road for many people. Everyone grieves differently, in their own way, and in their own times.  For me, sometimes negative feelings and getting lost in thought has been getting in the way of my own productivity, which is said to be normal and expected at this stage. However, after taking a mental vacation of sorts, I’d like to start getting back into the groove of things.

So in order to regain my focus, I have put together a short list of reminders to get me started, and maybe these can be helpful to you too.

Avoid negative thinking. Easier said than done, definitely, but it can be done. Whatever has got you down, remember that it could be a lot worse. Count your blessings, appreciate what you have, and focus on the good aspects in your current life and what is ahead of you.

Surround yourself with people that uplift you. There’s no point in being around toxic people that bring you down. If you know someone that radiates positive energy, encourages you, inspires you, or just generally makes you feel better than you were, then call them up. Make a point to keep these people close and their light will rub off on you.

Eat healthy. Obviously this is common sense, but it’s easy to ignore. Focus on energy boosting foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Drink lots of water, which is the one thing I always slack on but it really does make me feel better within a half an hour.

Get enough sleep. Some people can be efficient with little sleep and some people need 7 or more hours. Some people need power naps, some never do. Whatever works for you, do it, as long as you aren’t sleeping the day away and getting done what you set out to do.

Remove distractions. Too many distractions will tempt us away from getting anything done. Turn off your phone and put it away. Disconnect from your internet. Seek privacy or whatever the right setting you need to do what you need to get done. Whatever project you are working on, it needs your full attention.

Focus on goals and ambitions. Have clear and attainable goals and keep your eye on the prize. It helps to have short term goals as well as long term goals. The shorter term goals will give you more immediate gratification which will help you keep going afterwards.

Enjoy your accomplishments. When you accomplish a goal, no matter if it’s big or small, enjoy it. Tell your loved ones about it and invite them for drinks to celebrate. Allow yourself to really feel relief that you have done something good. This also helps to give you a winning attitude which will keep you going strong.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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?