Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why I Chose To Leave

The following post is a way for me to come clean. A way for me to stop living a lie. I don't want to hear opinions or comments, or anything at all really. This post is for me.

I was recently told by probably the most important person in my life that they don't matter to me because of the way I chose to live my life. Because I don't live by their standards, or their values. If they really mattered to me, I wouldn't choose to live the way I do. 

Over the past few years, I chose to lie to this person. I lied by omission, and I lied about things so they wouldn't find out the truth.

Well, here's the truth.

When I was young, I wasn't active in the church. I was baptized, but I don't ever remember being active. I don't remember going to church as a family. I don't remember praying before meals. We did those things occasionally, but I was never taught how important those things were to the religion. I was the kid that wasn't allowed to play with other kids in my neighborhood because I "didn't go to church." 

As I got older, I was told I was going to start going to church functions like activity days, young women's, girls camp, EFY, seminary, etc. Never really given a choice, but I would go anyway.

The standards of the church were clear. No smoking, drinking, no more than one set of piercings in your ears, no tattoos, no sex before marriage, and many more.

Starting young, I got multiple piercings, but I never saw it as a bad thing. A lot of other people gave me crap for it, but I didn't mind. For my 18th birthday present to myself, I got my first tattoo. I hid it in fear of what people close to me would say, but I loved it and saw no problem with it if I was happy.

I can honestly say to you those are the only things I did "wrong" as a kid. Do you know how many times I was offered drugs? Alcohol? Even sex? Too many times to count. Even my "super Mormon" acquaintances were engaged in these activities, but I was looked down upon and treated differently because I couldn't physically hide my "wrong." 

I never considered myself LDS. I never truly accepted it. But I felt guilty. Why? Why did I feel guilty? I felt guilty because my family made me feel that way. I was supposed to accept the church. I HAD to.

After high school, I started hanging out with one of my cousins that knew how important the church is to her. It is her everything. She didn't doubt a single thing. I love that about her. I look up to her. I wanted that too. 

I started going to church. Truly living the lifestyle. With her help, I was going to become what my family wanted me to be. She helped and influenced me more than ever, and I'm forever grateful.

I had an opportunity to move to Illinois and be a nanny. I worked for an LDS family. I became the most involved in the church than I've ever been while living out there. I fasted, prayed before every meal, when I woke up in the morning, and when I went to bed. I went to church EVERY Sunday, paid my tithing, had a calling I went above and beyond for, I was approached about preparing myself to go through the temple, and I studied the Bible and Book of Mormon daily. I was finally what my family wanted me to be. 

But I wasn't happy. I didn't understand this church. There are no answers to my questions except "you just have to believe." There's no explanation for the things I want to know. My questions were shot down, dismissed, even laughed at. 

I was always told I was going through a phase as a kid and as a teenager. That I would understand the church when I grew older. I'm older. What I finally came to understand is that this church is not for me. 

I chose to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Please don't get me wrong. I DO NOT think poorly of the LDS religion. If it weren't for the standards this church taught me, I wouldn't have stayed away from the drugs, sex, and alcohol in my youth. I wouldn't have the compassion I was taught, and I wouldn't have the friends or family I have now. I respect this religion, I appreciate it, and I will never speak illy of it.

I removed my records, but I hid it from everyone. I only told a select few people. I've been terrified, and still am for them to find out because I know they will no longer accept me. I've been lying about it. Hiding the real me. But it's time to come clean. There's nothing left for me to lose at this point, because I've already lost it.

I'm Ashley Anderson.
I waited until I was 21 and out of the church to have my first alcoholic beverage, and I occasionally drink.
I have 10 piercings and 5 tattoos, none of which I regret. 
Again, I waited until I was out of the church, but did not save myself for marriage. 
I live with my boyfriend and have been for a year. 
I've never smoked, I've never done drugs.
I love me for who I am, and am proud of who I've grown to be.
I'm kind, I'm compassionate, and I'm caring. 
I'm open minded. I know there are two sides to a story. I may not agree with a side, but I respect it. 
I believe in other peoples' opinions.
I will never tell someone they are wrong because their values are different.
I AM NOT a bad person for how I choose to live my life.

I'm done hiding and living a lie. You can love me for who I am, or you can judge me for the "wrong" I do in your eyes. But I am happy. And now, I am FREE.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's My Wedding, And I'll Cry If I Want To

I'm getting married.
This is supposed to be a happy time in my life.
It's not.

Instead of being happy about my tremendous news, some people I'm associated with can't help but tell me LOADS of negative things about my "happy" day. For example:

Apparently, what I want for my ceremony is wrong.
My rings? Oh guess what, I'm doing those wrong.
Did you know my dress looks like a nightgown? Suppose that must be wrong too.
My reception? WRONG.

These are a select FEW things I've chosen to share. 

I have something to say to everyone that is being negative about MY wedding plans.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Few Therapy Words, Shall We?

Let's talk about the word "validate."
When looked up in the dictionary, it's defined as follows:

verb (used with object)validated,validating.

to make validsubstantiate; confirm:
Time validated our suspicions.
to give legal force to; legalize.
to give official sanction, confirmation, or approvalto, as elected officials, election procedures,documents, etc.:
to validate a passport.

"Validate" is a very important word used in therapy. When I was working with the troubled youth last year, it was a word used on a daily basis, multiple times a day.  Youth AND staff were taught that validation is a powerful communication skill. Its usage can dismantle power struggles, resolve arguments, and build deeply trusting relationships. Basically, these kids were learning that it's ok to share your feelings. Most of them were at the rehabilitation center because their biggest struggle was coping with their emotions in extremely negative ways.

To understand why people need to be validated makes us realize how often our feelings get shamed. There are very few places where feelings are welcomed, if welcomed at all. We learn that strength means not crying, feeling fear, and never being angry. 

Showing strong emotion makes people around you uncomfortable. That's why majority of us, including myself, find it best to just keep those emotions bottled up inside. 

A bad habit I've gained over the years is straight up not saying how I feel. Ever. I've come to the point where I'm too scared to even have the slightest confrontation with someone, so whatever the feeling, no matter how strong, I will not talk about it.

Why? Why do I let these emotions literally eat away at me? Isn't it easier to just talk about it? 

Yes. It is. But without that validation while trying to communicate feelings, those emotions will always come back. 

Usually during "communication" people will attempt to get you to stop as quickly as possible. They  may try to reassure you, tell you what you want to hear. Even if their intent is to help you feel better, often the message conveyed is that it's not okay to feel bad.

Validation is not "playing therapist." It's not giving your advice, it's not sympathizing, it's not telling someone they're wrong. Simply put, validation is the message, "Your feelings make sense. Not only do I hear you, but I understand why you feel the way you do. You are not bad or wrong or crazy for feeling the way you do."

Validate is one of my favorite words to use. Not because of the way it sounds, not because of the way it looks, but because of what it means, what it does. It's definitely my favorite communication skill. Being a reflective listener and validation. 

Both are super important. They let people know you genuinely care what they're saying. That you hear them. It's effective communication.

It took a lot to learn how those things work (thanks to working at Youth Care!) It's going to take even more for me to learn effective communication, but at least I have the other two down. 

Pointless blog post. But I've been lacking the validation in my life, so consider it a simple reminder. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Story of Life Is Quicker Than the Blink of An Eye

"Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings happiness."
If I could sum up my job at Hollow Park... I would use the quote above. 
I love my job
It brings me happiness
I had to make one of the hardest career choices I've ever had to make in the history of Ashley's career choice making... Ever.
I decided to leave my job at Hollow Park.
The job I worked so hard at.
The job I looked forward to going to everyday.
I decided to leave it. 
Stepping down as assistant manager has been super emotional for me. It's emotional for me because I have a job I love, I'm in the field I want to specialize in, and now I get to leave it all because I can't pay bills.
I found a new job.

I work for ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City as a Specimen Processing Technician in the Specimen Receiving department. Sounds fancier than it is.
I now work in a field I know NOTHING about. 
I'm trying to be positive about the whole situation though.
I've made a "PRO'S" list. 
  • The company I now work for is super awesome to their employees. (free health clinic, free gym/nutritionists on site, amazing benefits, tuition reimbursement, etc. ) 
  • I'm learning things I never thought I'd be learning about.
  • I have a very high chance of moving up in this company. (if I work hard enough... which I will)
  • I work in Salt Lake, so I get to see a brand new outlook on life outside of Utah County.
  • I have tons and tons of awesome coworkers. 
  • I have a particular set schedule, I won't get called in like I used to all the time.   
And my favorite... 
  • It's work that I can actually leave at work.  
 It's going to be good for me in the long run, and I'm still going to be on-call at Hollow Park. It's just hard in the moment. We all have things we need to sacrifice in order to survive. I'm not the only one who goes through this. Unfortunately we all have to do something similar at one point in our lives.
But anyhow, here's to new chapters in the "Book of Ashley" 

Friday, August 8, 2014


We all know the loving story of how I adopted Coco, so now it's Rucifer's turn. 
First of all, yes. I got a cat.
Second, yes. I DID in fact name my cat Rucifer. That's Lucifer with an "R."
Shall I elaborate? 

We all know and love the beloved and timeless Disney movie Cinderella. Well, in said movie, there is a cat named Lucifer. He looks like this.

The also beloved "mice-that-talk" in Cinderella end up saying Lucifer's name with an "R."
So they call him "Rucifer."

Here's my cat.

Kinda similar. 

Now, let's tie into my original story of adopting this guy.

It all starts with my awesome friend! (who also likes to rescue animals.. because she's awesome.) Same one that co-adopted Coco. 
She was fostering kittens for quite some time and got me into it as well. I stopped after a few kitties were in an out of my home, but she kept up with it. This put me into contact with a few shelters, rescue teams, etc.

One random day in April, I get a call from a clinic in Payson asking if there was any way I could possibly take in two cats that were going to be euthanized at 5 o'clock that same evening if nobody came to get them.
 It had been about 4 months since I'd fostered any cats... 
I didn't really want any more... 
But I couldn't let two innocent kitties wrongfully die!! 
I also couldn't take in two cats... 
 BUT, of course I said yes.
My friend was gracious enough to help out and said she'd take one of them.

We go to Payson to pick them up, we get them back to her house and the first thing we do is give them names. I saw my cat and the first thing that popped into my head was, "he looks like the cat from Cinderella."
Of course I'm not going to name a cat after the dark ruler of the underworld!!!
But the mice call him Rucifer... And that's cute.
So there it was.
After a few hours, I took him back to my house. I let him do his own thing until he was comfortable meeting the dogs and getting to know the humans in the house. 
He started warming up to the idea of our home and the dogs as well. I started to see more of his personality come out. He was very sweet, affectionate, and patient. (especially with the dogs) He wasn't vocal or obnoxious. He just did his thing, and when he wanted lovin', he'd get it when he was right and ready.
I was especially fond of this cat. I knew he was different. He was special. I was excited for him to go the the adoption event in a few weeks to find a "Forever Home."

One day I remembered the group home I currently work at had been entertaining the idea of getting a therapy animal for our clients. 
Oh. My. Word.
I had the perfect cat for the girls!
I couldn't wait for permission to bring him in to meet the clients. A few days later, I did just that and my girls LOVED him. He jumped in their laps, fell asleep while they pet him, went for rides on their wheelchairs, he was the perfect cat for that home. I was so excited that I'd still get to see him all the time, because well, let's be honest....
I loved him too.
A few days pass and I'm waiting for permission from our program director to approve this lil guy so my girls can love on him the rest of his days.
No deal.
The girls can't have him because he's not declawed.
I had to take him to the adoption event after all.

I moped for the next few days. Dreaded my goodbye with this sweet little cat. When one day, I'm cuddling him in my bed, as he's purring his sweet little pigeon purr while laying on my chest and I just decided.

I'm keeping him.
I'm his forever home.

This is that moment I'm talking about

What have I done? I just got a cat. I now own a zoo! 2 dogs and 1 cat because Ashley just can't say no!
You know what though? 
Don't regret it. 
I love my animals.

Ruci now has a loving family and has made a new best friend.
These two absolutely love each other. 

 I am most definitely capped out with the number of animals to own at once. But I'm pretty happy. I love my little zoo and all their little personalities. 

We make a happy lil family.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Coco Cabana

This is the story of how I came to adopt my little puppins Coco.

First time meeting

I had just moved home from Illinois, and I was loving spending time with all my friends and family again. My friend was mentioning how she was wanting another dog, so I decided to help her look around for one. I got a call from a dog grooming place in Springville asking if we would be willing to have our numbers given to someone that had a little Pomeranian puppy that needed to find a home. I agreed and the care taker of the dog contacted me. Her name was Anna.

Anna had informed me that this dog was in fact blind. I didn't think much of it, because in my mind for some reason, I thought she was only a "little bit" blind. I set up a time with her to go look at the dog.

When we arrived at Anna's home, I couldn't wait for my friends to meet this little Pomeranian. We walk in the door to meet the dog, and there's no Pomeranian to be found. Just this 11 pound "I-don't-even-know-what-this-breed-is" dog chillin' on the couch moving her head around and trying grasp what's happening because there are now strangers in her home.

That's when it hit me. "Oh. This dog is all the way blind." You could just tell by the way she acted. I was hesitant. I was thinking I just wasted everyone's time. I brought my friends to look at a dog they wouldn't even want. Still, I wanted to be nice and take the time to meet this little blind thing.

I called her name, and tried to coax her over to me. She would have none of it. Anna picked her up and brought her to us. I let her sniff my hand, and she had no idea what to think. So then I pet her. Ok, so this human isn't so bad, Coco started to think. Then we started to play, and cuddle, and I was getting drowned in kisses and that's when it happened.... 

I. Fell. In. Love.

To heck what my friends wanted!! I was going to own this dog!! I was so excited, ready to take her home right then, but then it hit me...

I still live at home and already have one dog my dad hates.

I could not own this dog.

I was crushed. My heart was sad. I was afraid of what would happen to this poor, sweet little girl.

The drive home was about to kill me.

We were all in the car, driving in silence. I was replaying the scenario that just happened in my head over and over, not aware of my surroundings, thinking to myself. My friends were probably annoyed that I just wasted their time. I should not have gone to look at that dog.

That's when my friend's husband spoke.
"I think we should bring her home."


That got my attention and I practically sprung to the front seat of the car.

 "What do you mean we should bring her home?"

He then told me that he thinks that they can take little Coco until I get my own place.

Yes, yes, yes!!!

I couldn't believe my friends would do such an amazing thing for me. I contacted Anna that night and we made arrangements for when I would pick her up and be able to bring her "home."

One week later, after two surgeries and a long recovery ahead, that sweet girl was all ready for us.

Car ride home

She was 10 months old when we brought her home. We decided it would just be easier on her if we kept her name. We did however add a little something to it.

Coco Anna Anderson

We named her after the vet tech that truly saved her life. She saved this puppy from being wrongfully euthanized, and to her, I am extremely grateful, or I would not have found my little Coco-Cab"anna."

My friends graciously had her in their home for 6 months until I found my own place.

After a short re-adjustment period, some more training, and lots of lovin', Coco couldn't be happier. She is now 2 years old as of July 12th, and I've had her for 1 year since May 10th. Life certainly is not dull with her around!

Some may think it's silly because she's "just a dog," but I love her with my whole heart.

I couldn't have asked for a better addition to the family.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Better Late Than Never?

WOW. I have some updating to do. 9 months is far too long. I've just been loving life, I guess. Plus, I'm a busy gal, BUT, let's get started.

Moved home one year ago on May 2nd! 
I'm down to one job... Temporarily.
I got promoted! I'm now an assistant manager.
I'm dating quite a wonderful fellow.
I now live in a cutie little basement apartment.
I got a cat! 
I do grown up things like build credit.
I also can't think of anything else.

I just like to keep myself busy. I need to learn to do more for myself though. I get burnt out every once in a while, so I need to find something that can help me relax and unwind. Still never found that hobby! That's ok though. It's starting to warm up outside, so I'll be doing much more than sitting inside cursing the cold. 

I'm not really sure if I'll still do the blog thing. I'm debating. We will sure find out though! So, until next time, my friends. Well.... Maybe. =]