Starting Point

It’s the first day of my last year of university. Wow.

Here I am, sitting the dining room, just before I drive back to school, writing this post.

Reflecting, yet again on where I’ve come from. Four months of “summer” went by WAY TOO FAST. From food adventures, to road trips, to recovery, and my birthday surprise. WAY TOO GOOD. 

Just over 4 months ago, I was sitting in the living room, legs propped up, ice machine running to reduce the inflammation in my left knee. It was the beginning of my ACL recovery journey. I remember staring into the kitchen, watching my mom prepare my meals. I remember waiting for my brother to wake up just so he could help me get down the first step to get to the washroom. I remember my dad trying to get me out of the house for doctor’s appointments. Has it really already been 4 months? 

I shared my recovery story at church last Saturday, and couldn’t help but come back to the verses that God impressed for me to meditate on the day of surgery:

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well…
How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.” – Psalm 139: 14, 17 – 18

I’m humbled by the thought that I almost gave up on myself, despite the love my friends and family share with me; God never stopped showing me His love through them and their actions.

In the past I’ve gone through destructive and degrading negative self-talk that nearly crushed my spirits. I almost got to that point again this summer, but thank God for His love.

You see, when you’re in recovery, so many thoughts go through your mind. Well for me anyway. Thoughts like: Am I ever gonna get to run again? Why can’t this recovery go any faster? Am I even ready to finish university? What’s gonna happen afterwards? Why am I worrying again? I feel like I’m drifting away from my friends. Am I too hard on my brother? Are my parents ACTUALLY proud of me?

But then, God’s voice was like: Ashley, why are you worrying again? Remember I said,

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6, 7

I’ve also told you,

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:33, 34

It’s amazing how my thoughts started to change: I don’t have to be anxious. I don’t have to worry, nor should I even consider it. I have a focus and that is God’s kingdom. I want to live my life more intentionally for Him. He deserves my praise. I’m His child. Nothing can separate me from him, nor can anyone give or take away the love He has for me. 

As a blogger, I read other blogs, too. They’re a great source of writing fuel – just saying 😉 I came across this quote, “You don’t make mistakes, mistakes make you.” I can’t exactly remember which blog or post I saw it from, I mean it could have even been a movie… But that quote just resonated with me. You don’t make mistakes, mistakes make youSo I may think I made the mistake, but the mistake actually builds me up. The mistake(s) help me learn more about myself, and as a Christian, about the God who loves me and gave His Son for me.

Sitting here in the dining room makes me remember that my falling down that ski slope on the evening of January 31, 2014, WAS a mistake, and it was the act of deciding to go down the hill that made me fall and injure myself. BUT, after surgery and working on recovery, I realize that this injury will forever define part of me. You can say I’m allowing this said “mistake” to define me, but not to break me down. Rather to build others up and remind them where I came from, hoping that they, too, will remember where they came from.

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Trillium Park, Toronto, ON

We all started somewhere at some point.
I started university for the third time, 3 years ago. I started skiing in December 2013. I started recovery after April 18, 2017. Had I never started any of the above, never would I be sharing these testimonies with you.

We all have a journey to take.
Whether you’re just starting your university journey, almost finished, or still hesitating to decide – you’re working towards something special.

We all have the ability to quit or continue.
Did you start something new? Are you still contemplating on what to do next? The key is to “Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill.

So what’s it gonna be? You have the choice to make it or break it friends.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

Make it count!

-LifeisaBeaut ❤

My not-so-little brother inspires me because…

Broski, if you’re reading this, just know I’m not doing it to embarrass you. Rather, It’s because I’m very proud of you.


He knows how annoying and out-of-the-loop I’ve been since surgery, and I simply want him to know how much I TRULY appreciate his patience. He listens to me, puts up with my forgetfulness, he’s pretty awesome.

I’ll never forget the day my dad came to pick me up after school saying, “Ready to meet your brother?”

We got to the hospital and as the doors opened to get into my mom’s room, I tiptoed over to the bed and crib. There he was, this little person wrapped in a blanket, tiny mittens covering tiny fingers, and a little bonnet keeping his little head warm. Everything about him was tiny and delicate.

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Nearly 20 years later, he’s over a foot taller than me, knows more of what’s happening in the world, and always has a new fact or story to share.

After vocational training, this young man aspires to work in the food industry (which suits him 100%), and I have full confidence he will reach his dreams. I’ve seen him fail, almost give up, and struggle to make our parents proud.

But here’s the thing, he’s never failed to make me proud. Although he’s younger than I, he’s done more for me than he thinks. Bro, God is cheering you on because He knows you’re giving Him your all.

You inspire me because there had been times in this recovery process where I just wanted to give up and stop trying. You inspire me because you’re so open to new things, you look forward to what tomorrow brings, even if you don’t admit it. You’ve taught me that God is our best friend and that He will never give up on us.

I pray that God continues to bless you as you allow Him to use you to bless others through your ministries. You have so much potential, and I am so happy to call you my broski. You’re my #1 fan, and I know I’ll never be classified as a “girl” because I’m your sister (inside joke LOL). Do you bro, I’m here to walk with you every step of the way.

This post is dedicated to you bro, thanks for always being you. Here’s to more jinxes, food adventures, and awkward moments.

I’ll end this post with a quote a friend shared with me:

Shoot for the stars, but never lose sight of the flowers.

Do it up bro. I love you. I mean it!

A Day at the Park

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I had the privilege to spend a weekend in July with my godson, and captured such adorable portraits of him. This little man’s been practicing his walking, and these photos were taken BEFORE he started walking on his own. It’s now August and he’s walking and dancing! So much can happen in 1 month eh? Way to go champ. Ninang (Godmother) is proud of you ❤ !

Where you’re at

The best part of learning is just loving where you’re at. #AllenStone 😀

Ever wonder what the story of strangers are? I mean you’ve got to see people on your commute to work, school, the gym – you name it. Strangers are everywhere. Strange eh? 😛

It’s always during the summer months that I go on food adventures, take more photos than usual (and sometimes more than needed), and post on Instagram like crazy! I’m the type that likes to document everything, and when something’s good – I share it! Like the exciting feat of getting to create my own pizza at Pizza Studio, and squeaky cheese topped on an authentic Canadian poutine from 3 Brothers in Ottawa, not to mention my ongoing love for ice cream (and now gelato) – the list is endless!

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Currently at Starbucks as I write this post, and I hear voices of men to my left. I look over and I notice half of them with semi-graying hair, the other in baseball caps, each with hot java at hand. It sounds like they’re talking about their daily routines: reading the paper, walking the dog, sitting on the patio. Interesting. Don’t you think? ok, maybe not… but maybe — yes? 

Summer months are great for trying out new food, desserts, and discovering new trails and such, but seriously, think about the people you’ve encountered within the last 2 or 3 months. That’s right, backtrack a little with me here.

It’s ok if you don’t want to (yet), you may change your mind soon.

Care if I share some stories in the next few moments? 🙂

The photographer at Riverdale Park East, using a Nikon, wife sitting on a bench behind him. Tripod and camera set up to capture the Toronto skyline from one of the breath-taking locations to view the city. He’d been in Toronto for nearly 45 years and had just discovered the view from Riverdale Park. With a simple Google search of “where to shoot the Toronto Skyline”. Cool eh? I don’t blame him, my brother and I did the same thing. What will I remember? – his creativity and the support of his lifetime parter. #thatslove

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The man who claims to be a whistleblower in the city of Toronto, red-hair, beard, Iron Man t-shirt, sweater at hand. He caught my attention because he kept talking about his story. The hurt of abuse for the first 18 years of his life, the mistreatment from the city he receives, and the ignorance of fellow citizens of society. All he wants is to be loved, to be accepted, and to be acknowledged for being human. What will I remember? The tears that came to his eyes when I offered to pray for him, his situation, and his safety. #Godslove

The man who was persistent to get new shoes! “FANTASTIC!” He exclaims, once we got his shoes on. One shoelace loosening to the next – it was tough! LOL What will I remember? – His cheery smile and positive attitude.

You see. Strangers aren’t so bad. They all have something to teach you, just like you have something to teach them. You may not realize it in the moment, but once you get time to reflect and just recap your day and encounters, you’d be surprised to see what you come up with.

“Don’t talk to strangers” is all too cliche and too safe. I say talk to strangers (assess the situation first of course). It’s not so bad, afterall.

-LifeisaBeaut ❤

Can you be still?

DSC_0033Ever have those days when you sit outside on the porch, covered with a throw blanket, and birds are chirping, hours after the sun has set? I have. 🙂

And it was that summer evening that I came to a realization: I’m not content with wanting to be content because I’m always looking for more. I like change, I like new things, I appreciate the little joys in life, but it never seems to be enough.

I lean to the right and hear a loud bird humming its song, one minute after the next – it sings. I face forward and hear a distant bird, humming its melodious song. Then I close my eyes and lean to the left, listening for a bird. I barely hear it, but I know there’s wildlife down yonder.

A few minutes later, there it is. It’s as if the birds from my right are singing to the birds by the pond, to my left. They just keep singing.

The sky gets darker and the breeze gets stronger, I should probably go inside soon, I think. But once I return into a warm, comfortable, familiar space, my home, the openness and freshness of the outdoors will be missed.

I sit there a little longer, hoping mosquitoes don’t come out to get me. I stare at my neighbour’s houses and wonder… what’s their story? How was their day? What’s the best thing they’ve experienced this week? I stop in my thoughts and listen, again. The birds are still singing.

The street lights come on, it’s time to go in. But I can’t help it. I wonder what those birds are thinking. What does their song mean? What are they saying? Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they scared? Are they feeling the chills like me? What’s their story? 

Self-discovery is about listening, being still, and digging deep. It’s about learning, reading, and expanding your knowledge about the world. Take some time and be still. You’d be surprised to see what inspires you.

That summer’s night, I didn’t know I’d learn a lesson from the birds, that evening I sat outside. I should be content and keep singing my song while I discover more about me. As I become this young woman, strong and independent – sing with my friends, tell them about my day. Near or far, there’s a friend out there inspiring me. Like the birds, I will keep sharing my story.

-LifeisaBeaut ❤

 

 

Anywhere but here

IMG_2889Same people, same places, same old routine gets boring.

Get out. Explore. Meet new people, try new food, discover more of me.

I’m stuck in the same story line, looking for a new plot to write.

I know I can’t do it here, I need to move, see, pave a new path, start a new journey.

I will surround myself with people who inspire me, bring life to my stories again, and just be.

There’s so many things I’m unsure of, but one thing I know for sure: I need to be anywhere but here.

-LifeisaBeaut ❤