A Leaf of Faith

Winter Leaf

It’s half past nine on a chilly Friday morning. I’m sitting at my work desk, mostly situated for the day, still brushing the remaining sleepy dust from my tired commuter eyes. Coffee, I think to myself as I grab my little cardboard cup of heaven and take a sip. I let the liquid warm my body from the inside out, smiling to myself. This coffee was better than my coffee the rest of the week because why? It was Friday coffee. Free Friday coffee. (Who said Friday the 13th was all bad?)

Sighing, I close my eyes for a second then get to work. I’m still a little flushed from the walk over, but sitting there while the heat of the building wrapped me up in its warm embrace, I didn’t really mind. There’s something to be said about the feeling when your body slowly melts back into warmth that makes you forget just how much it sucked being cold in the first place. That transition is like no other.

E-mails. Check. I stop for a second and stretch, my gaze lazily wandering over to the window directly across from me. I don’t see much from the 19th floor but the other buildings around me, so you can imagine my surprise when that second, a leaf fell from who even knows where? It fell so calmly and yet so suddenly that I couldn’t help but stare, even after the illusion was out of view. It had to have been an illusion, right?

There are barely any trees in downtown Manhattan.

The trees that do exist are not trees that could reach my floor.

I found myself amazed by something that was so standard back home and couldn’t help but over think it.

Was it fall saying it’s long and last goodbye? It really hadn’t gotten cold until the recent weeks, and it technically wasn’t winter yet. Or did it symbolize something else? Was I running out of time for something? Was it a metaphor for anything is possible?

In the end, I took it for what it was: a leaf of faith. However the leaf got up there didn’t matter as much as the simple fact that it had found a way. ¬†I thought it was amazingly refreshing advice.

With the current year coming to an end and the new one so soon ahead of us, I realized that that would be my resolution. If I wasn’t happy with something, I’d find a way to fix it – even if that meant taking a risk and taking that leaf of faith.

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A Jersey Girl’s Commuter Survival Guide

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This November marked two years at my current job – which also marked two years of commuting, Monday through Friday, into New York City. While I could honestly write a book about all the things I’ve seen, I thought today (while someone hacked on the PATH *bleh*) that a survival guide would be much more appropriate.

So here you have some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned the past two years during my (roundtrip) 3-hour commute every day:

  1. Don’t text and walk. No, seriously – I don’t care if you’re lost. It will result in crushed toes, muttered curses, and potentially a scar that will last forever. And everyone will hate you – including the crossing guards. (Okay the scar may or may not have happened at a Target back in Jersey, but that’s a whole other blog post.) But seriously, just don’t do it.
  2. Please, please, please – if you DO have to stop, step to the side of the flow of traffic. Nobody wants to walk face first into your back, I can promise you that.
  3. While getting off the train, follow the pregnant lady. Always! Everyone will always step out the way for her. And if you’re on the train already, don’t forget to give her your seat. Also always. ūüėČ
  4. Give people the benefit of the doubt: they are generally kinder than you think. While I’ve seen my fair share of rude comments being exchanged on the train, I’ve also seen countless people offering up their seats. I’ve seen people helping other people pick up things that they’ve dropped. I’ve seen people playing with babies, and complimenting the person next to them. Kindness is actually all around.
  5. When taking the PATH,¬†look up. You’ll be informed of¬†the latest news,¬†and you’ll learn words like “cock-a-hoop” (which is an adjective that means “extremely and obviously pleased, especially about a triumph or success”… seriously. Check Google.) And if you keep watching, you’ll even get to see your horoscope for the day. (I somehow always either fall asleep or look away just as “Aries” flashes by on the screen and miss it -_- but do as I say, not as I do!)
  6. When someone coughs, don’t glare. Because when you’re sick in two weeks and coughing and blowing your nose and wondering why you’re even going to work, they’re all going to be glaring at you. And you’re not going to like it very much. (I’ll admit – I’ve been the glarer and the glaree. Now I just laugh it off. Whatever – people get sick. Just DON’T SNEEZE IN YOUR HANDS AND GRAB THE POLES FOR BALANCE. I beg of you and so do the thousands of other people who commute everyday.)
  7. Invest in some serious winter gear.¬†Winter in NYC is no joke. Except this year’s winter… because as I’m writing this it’s almost 50 degrees in December. And I’m still wearing my fall coat. (Note: I am not complaining. At all. Even though I spent $200 on the best down coat ever last year – I still stand by my purchase.) Regardless, you will never be comfortable on the train, ever – because no matter how many layers you do or don’t wear, it’s just an unwritten law. ‘No person shall be comfortable commuting, ever,’ said the Commuting Gods.
  8. Make the most of your time. Most people don’t have the privilege to sit for an hour and a half one way to work. Yes, I said privilege. Use this time for you. Read a book. Daydream. Listen to your favorite album. Sleep. Whatever it is, make this time you time.
  9. Be aware.¬†Of course, this is hard when you’re sleeping – and this is also coming from the girl who wound up in the PATH graveyard one night because she didn’t hear “LAST STOP, THIS IS THE LAST STOP.” But like I said, do as I say, not as I do ūüėČ I learned my lesson.
  10. And last but not least…smile more!¬†Commuting can be dreadful, trust me – I know. When service is completely suspended and they tell you that the express train you thought you caught is actually now a local train – I challenge you to smile. At the person next to you, or to the one in front of you, or even just at yourself. It will make all the difference. And before you know it, you’ll be wherever you need to be.

Till next time xo

Ashley, Two-Years Strong

An Attitude of Gratitude

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 8.18.15 PM It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the things we don’t have, instead of focusing on¬†all of the things we already do. Developing an attitude of gratitude isn’t always easy, and it’s something I’ve vowed to work on in the upcoming months. With all of the craziness going on in the world right now, I’ve been thinking lately how truly blessed I really am.

I’m thankful for the roof over my head. I’m thankful for the family I have underneath it. I’m thankful for my generally good health. I’m thankful for my youth and for all the life left ahead of me that I have yet to¬†live. I’m thankful for my working fingers typing this blog right now, and for my eyes that let me see the words as they pop up on the screen. I’m thankful for my ears that can hear music and the sound of coffee brewing in the morning. I’m thankful for my nose, even though it’s a little stuffy right now. I’m thankful for my skipping and dancing two legs. I’m thankful for my hugging two arms. I’m thankful to have found a hobby I love (Zumba), and a¬†second family because of it. I’m thankful for my job and my thoughtful coworkers. For my sweet, funny, and caring friends. I’m thankful to live in a state where I experience all four seasons: from the first falling leaf¬†to the softest spring spreeze. I’m thankful for honey particularly this week, as I’ve been battling a cold. I’m thankful for tea, too, and the comfort it brings after a long chilly commute home.

I can go on and on with this list, but I want to make gratitude a normal part of my daily routine. Every day, I want to wake up and notice something new to be thankful for. Because the truth is – regardless of what I don’t have, what I do have is so much more.

Till next time xo

Ashley

I’m Writing For Me

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It’s crazy to think that I started this blog back in 2012. At the time, I wanted to use it as a writing portfolio. I was freelancing part-time for a woman’s lifestyle¬†site, and the blog was a great place to expand on my writing, while linking out to other articles I’d already written. When my current full-time job fell into my lap, I stopped writing altogether. Shortly after, the site I was freelancing for folded into another site, and then ceased to exist entirely.

Why do we stop doing the things we love? Why do we give up on the things that make us happy? For me, there was a multitude of reasons. I could sit here all day and make up excuses for myself: I was too busy at my new full-time job. I had nothing to write about… – but I won’t. The truth is, I felt uninspired. And I didn’t feel “good enough.” But good enough for what? A blog is a personal (albeit public) space intended for whatever a writer chooses, right? Couldn’t I just choose to write for me?

Writing has always been very therapeutic for me. If I could, I’d write my way through life. For some reason, it’s always been easier for me to explain myself through¬†the written word than speaking. So why deny myself that simple pleasure?

My hope is that by returning to writing, I’ll be returning to a small part of myself that I’ve left behind these¬†past few years. If writing is something I do and enjoy, then that makes me a writer. It doesn’t matter who does or doesn’t read it.

Although I also hope that people will – because reading another’s words¬†can sometimes make this world seem a little¬†less lonely. When you read someone else’s words that you, too, feel in your heart – it connects you. Writing connects all of us, from centuries past through the centuries yet to come.

So, welcome back to me.

Till next time xo

Ashley