DRESSING FOR MY BODY TYPE

new suit

Have you ever seen a magazine cover or read an article of how you can successfully dress for your body type? I’ve definitely caught myself reading these “how to’s” before… but refuse to allow myself to think I can or can’t wear a certain type of clothing just because an article or fashion editor suggests so. I had this realization over the weekend when I asked my husband to take a photo of me in my swimsuit at the lake. You see, I just purchased this suit + I felt amazing in it! I had him snap a few photos + when I looked at them my mind went to one place right away… I recognized that I din’t look like most girls I see in this style of swimsuit. I wasn’t disappointed or displeased with how I looked in that moment, but looking at that photo took my mind somewhere else.

The thing is, I am sick of missing out on wearing styles of clothes or certain fashion statements that might not flatter me in a certain way. I am 5’4″, I have hips that might be undefined to some + a bust line that allows me to skip wearing a bra (if I really wanted to). I used to look at those articles + relate my body to a particular (fruit shape) or word less than desirable descriptive word such as a box shape or “broad shoulders” or rather “upside down triangle”. Who wants to be known or identified as those things?! So after identifying the shape or fruit my body represents on page 72 or Cosmo or Seventeen, I was then supposed to have the worldly knowledge as to wearing a particular length of skirt to make me look taller, style of blouse to enhance my chest, or style of neck line to make me appear more slim. As a shorter girl, I always wanted to look taller + slimmer growing up so I loved these articles and used them as a valuable fashion guideline to shop + style myself. But those days have changed.

I’ve spent the last week on a family vacation with my husband + packed my favorite, most comfortable clothes. The best part of this trip is that I even purchased a new swimsuit + I feel amazing in it! If I would have followed those “dress for your body type” guidelines on this trip, I guarantee I wouldn’t have ended up with a bathing suit like this because it didn’t have a tie on the top to create the illusion of having bigger bust line or the cleavage many women naturally have. I probably wouldn’t have ended up with a pair of bottoms like this either because I don’t necessarily have a shapely waist or a round bum. In fact, I’m pretty flat all around + that’s perfectly acceptable to me. I do have a body that I am thankful for + I am sick of identifying my body shape or identify how I look to a certain kind of person or fruit shape for that matter.

I don’t need anyone else to guide me on how to look my best anymore. I trust how I feel in my own skin + wearing the things I like the most. That being said, I encourage you to wear what you like + style yourself however you feel fits YOU best, because that’s all that matters! Don’t let your height or a silly shape test from an old magazine tell you that your body determines how you feel or identify yourself. I’m done identifying myself as “box shaped” with no curves. You’re gorgeous + perfect just as you are, so wear the swimsuit or the dress you’ve been putting off because you were afraid it made you look shorter or wider than you think you “should” be. I guarantee that if you feel good, you look even better anyway! 😉

xoxo,

Ashley

 

EMBRACING CHANGE

laugh with camera

“Life is about capturing moments. Don’t wait around for them to happen, create them for yourself”!

I felt compelled to write this morning because I feel change coming on. I can’t help but notice that I’m becoming a new person these past few months. My business is growing + I’m becoming much more comfortable talking about my life + the experiences that shaped me into who I am today. The reality of this realization I’ve had is that I AM CHANGING right now, each day.

The good news about this is: I have never been someone who feels like they have to remain the same person they used to be 5 years ago or even yesterday. In fact, I’d say that I’m a firm believer that as long as I am constantly evolving into a better person, I’m on the right track to be who I really want to be. Anybody feel me on this? The bad news: Not everyone likes change or is open to it.

Over the weekend I enjoyed one of the best lunch dates I’ve ever had with a new friend, Marian. Marian is the owner + founder of an incredible company based here in Phoenix, AZ. I LOVE what Marian promotes + teaches her clients as her passion lines up closely with mine. So you can understand why we had a great time chatting! 😉  Together we enjoyed delicious food, talked about boys, summer vacations, our business, + then a topic came up that was a little more serious + that was the topic of change. The truth is, it can be amazing to experience change + it can also be a challenging + painful thing to embrace when it’s unexpected. As we spoke about change, we both agreed that the interesting thing about change is that not everyone changes the same way, or at the same time which creates change itself.

Sometimes change comes in the form of getting a new job, moving across town or to a new country, from a growing family or changes in friendships. Other times change shows its face by making a big purchase like a home or starting or ending an important relationship in our life.  Maybe it’s finding a new hobby or making yourself a priority when you didn’t used to do that before. We talked about how some change was exciting + easy to embrace while other change was more difficult to accept as our new reality. We exchanged thoughts of how each of us handle change in our own life + business which opened a whole new thought process for me, everyone processes change SO differently. While my friend + I had so much in common on this topic, we couldn’t help but to discuss the fact that each person views change differently, sometimes as a scary or “bad” thing that is unwelcomed.  

The change I’ve noticed in recent months for myself is that I’ve found my voice + I’m not afraid to be heard any longer. I am talking about things that matter most to me + I’m sharing those thoughts because I want others to learn from my journey. Unapologetically, I’m sharing my triumphs + battles that have gotten me to where I am today. By no means does me sharing my beliefs or experiences mean that I think I have it all figured out in life (let’s be real, we all know that’s not the case) ;). However I am happy to share where I’ve been & where I’m going because I think there’s power in sharing our experiences with one another. My voice is changing to be heard + I’m evolving to be proud of my journey + where I’ve come from. That is a blessing for me because it’s given me my life back from a very dark place.

The caveat to all of this change I’m sharing with you is that it’s coming back full-circle for me. By sharing my experience + voice on the platforms I do, I’m now receiving personal messages from girls + women each day.  These girls are asking me how to get help, what worked for me when I was battling some difficult times + taking action to become the person they want to be. While I started sharing my story to help others, I didn’t see my journey unfolding the way it is right now. That being said, the change that’s occurred along the way is a true blessing for me + I’m glad my journey is evolving in the direction it’s taken so far. I’m thankful for the change that I’ve made + making the decision to share my life experiences in a public way. 

The point I’m nailing down here is that change is inevitable in life. There are so many directions this journey of life takes us on + it’s so much fun when you embrace it to follow your heart. My friend Marian that I met with yesterday reminded me yesterday that I am on the right track, embracing change + following my passion. It felt SO GOOD to get that positive feedback from her! So my question to you is how do you view change in your life? Do you embrace it or not so much? I’m working to embrace the change I see in my life + my creative ideas each day… it is leading me in a way I never imagined + I’m enjoying every moment of it (even though it’s scary at times). Cheers to loving the person you are now, the person you’re becoming, + the person you will be in 5 years from now. Let’s grow + be our best selves together!

❤ Xoxo,

Ashley

HAVE A CONVERSATION THAT MATTERS

 

pink brave quote

Have you ever wondered why I choose to share my experience recovering from my eating disorder?

FIRST OFF: THIS IS NOT A DEPRESSING STORY! I find it often that people listening to my story think it’s going to bee all negative + sad… it’s NOT! Are there sad parts in the story? Sure! But guess what else has sad parts in the story… Disney movies! It’s part of the package people, and guess what, my story has a happy ending! 🙂 It’s a story of inspiration and strength that so many people need to hear! ❤

If you’ve followed my personal experience + story, you’ll know that I used to be very secretive about where I was at until not too long ago. Nobody ever told me to feel guilty about it, it was just something I really didn’t want to share, simply because I was embarrassed. If you know what living with an eating disorder is really like, you’ll know there is nothing glamorous about it. It’s secretive, obsessive and creates a chaos in your mind + body that feels like a trap. (Feel like a sad story right now? That’s OK, read on)! 😉

When I first asked for help, I told my parents about my behaviors + how I couldn’t stop it on my own. Life with my anorexia + bulimia had become an addiction that I couldn’t live without. It was making my life miserable + I didn’t know how to stop it. That being said, I also hated the person I was becoming. It would have been embarrassing if my friends or extended family knew I didn’t have control over my own thoughts or behaviors. It would have also been embarrassing if they knew that I had to take a very extended leave of absence from college + had to go to therapy 5 days a week. I also didn’t want anyone worrying about my health or thinking that I didn’t want to get better when it took me a few years to recover. It felt like I was living a lie, + I didn’t like it one bit.

I was treated in an inpatient facility for 3 months (think of what it would be like living in a hospital with group therapy + seeing doctors all day every day). When I was discharged from inpatient, I took a 1 year hiatus from Facebook + social media when I was going through treatment because I didn’t want anyone knowing what I was up to or that I was “behind” anyone else. I couldn’t help but to compare my personal experience or life to anyone else + I was embarrassed that I hadn’t finished college yet. It was such an easy time in my life to compare my situation to other people because I was vulnerable + ashamed. Some of my high school friends were even getting married + starting families… + there I was, in therapy 5 days a week + suffering from panic attacks, taking medication for depression + anxiety. While I can still understand my train of thought back then, but I am glad that I didn’t stay there. So why didn’t I stay in that place of being ashamed + embarrassed of my life experiences? (This is my favorite part…) 😉

I was SO SICK OF HIDING! I hated the fact that talking about my eating disorder to friends or extended family always felt so embarrassing for me. It was frustrating that when I finally got the courage up to talk about it that people either didn’t want to engage in conversation about it back to me, or people just didn’t know what to say + basically switched the subject. WHY is talking about your personal life experience or a mental illness something that is taboo?! Do people not want to talk about it because it’s unpleasant… maybe. But why not get over that? Why not just talk about it or ask a question if you don’t understand it? It frustrates me SO MUCH + I was sick of being quiet about it!!!

I knew some of my friends had struggled with disordered eating + NOBODY SPOKE UP. Each + every one of those friends of mine chose to keep it to themselves. *Please know that I am aware that it’s not for everyone to speak up about their eating disorder, but for every person not to share… that made me sad. The painful part of this was the fact that nobody was going to break the stigma if nobody wanted to speak up. Who was going to help educate families + friends if not one person I knew would actually talk about what it’s like + how to get help or support someone dealing with this matter? It was time I decided I was ready to say something. I decided to share my story + start talking about what I went though. Not just when I was living with my eating disorder, but how I dealt with going to Dr. appointments 5 days a week for a few years, what it was like setting my pride + some goals aside to put my health first, how it changed my personal relationships + how/who I dated. I wanted people to stop being embarrassed to talk about mental illness and for people to have a real understanding of the issue.

I also wanted to encourage others to stop being embarrassed if they had an eating disorder. I wanted people to say something when they needed help + for friends, family + loved ones to have an understanding of what it’s like. Not to feel embarrassed or secluded from the rest of the population. Because the truth is, it’s a confusing + scary time to know your loved one is not in a stable mental or physical state. It’s a time for loved ones to learn + support too! I wanted friends + family to have empathy + understanding about the whole matter. So that’s why I share my story.

I share it to change thoughts, beliefs + understanding about eating disorders. I’m sick of people being embarrassed + ashamed about their personal challenges + experience. Hopefully my ability to share my story will create a safer space for others to speak up too. It can be very lonely living with an eating disorder, but it doesn’t have to be! + it is SO POSSIBLE TO RECOVER!

…And see… not a depressing story! (I told you)! 😉

xoxo,

❤ Ashley

INSECURITIES? WEAR THE SHORTS ANYWAY!

cropped legs photo

Happy holiday weekend!

As summer is officially here (+ considering the fact that I live in Phoenix, AZ) HA! 😉 I find myself wearing less layers of clothing + enjoying the feeling of running around with shorts + bare feet as much as possible. Summer is a time to let your hair down and be carefree about your responsibilities and enjoy making memories with loved ones and making new friends… right? That being said, I’m recalling a time that summer wasn’t such a carefree time for me.

When I was fighting for recovery after letting go of my eating disorder, I really went through a long 6 years of hating my body. I didn’t like when way my jeans felt against my stomach or so tight on my thighs, I hated showing off any part of my arms because they didn’t look a certain way, and I reeeaaaally hated my legs more than anything on the planet. I hated their natural shape, the way they “giggled” when I walked or moved and I wanted more than anything for my thighs not to touch. Some people reading this might think… whhhaaat is this girl saying? *But I guarantee many of you have thought similar thoughts at one point in time or another. I also didn’t like my butt because it didn’t seem “perky” and I didn’t have the tummy I had once had either. So why am I sharing this with you all? Because I know I wasn’t the only one who thought these things! It’s important to me to share my personal life experiences because I want others to learn from what I went though (both the fun and not so fun stuff). During this challenging time, I had terrible body image + felt like I would be judged by others for looking like this in public. I felt like I couldn’t get out and show my face (or my body) because I had a negative image about myself. Can any of you relate to having one or all of these thoughts? I hope you’re not in a place of hating your body, but if you are I hope this post helps you with you outwith where you’re at right now. ❤

So thinking these negative thoughts about my body, I found myself thinking the most horrible thoughts about how I looked and as a result, I had ZERO confidence in ME. I started avoiding friends and social situations where I thought I’d be judged. This came to be a really sad time for me because I avoided going to the lake with friends, BBQ parties with people I really wanted to be around, + sadly I even missed most of my little sister’s high school grad party because I was ashamed of how I looked… I hid in my bedroom instead. The point I’m making here is that I let my own insecurities get the best of me + I missed out on creating some incredible memories that I can’t get back now. The cool thing about having this insight is that I won’t be missing out on these opportunities anymore (and I haven’t for quite some time)! I am in a place where I love my body now + I’m thankful for all of the people I get to enjoy these fun times with.

 

With the 4th of July approaching and a long weekend ahead of us, I think it’s important to recognize that lots of women (+ men) are insecure about their body. Not just on holiday weekends, but every day. While many people don’t let bad body image get in their way, A LOT of people do. If you’re in a place where you feel negative about your body or how you look, I challenge you to ask yourself why. Is it because you built an idea of what you’re “supposed” to look like or because you think some not-so-nice things about yourself? This weekend, I particularly want to encourage you to WEAR THE SHORTS ANYWAY, go to that pool party or BBQ and PUT THAT SWIMSUIT ON if you’re at the lake! I can guarantee I wouldn’t be able to love my body today if I didn’t challenge myself in these situations or with my thought process back then. Life is too short to miss out on opportunities with your friends + family. Be kind to yourself + love your body this weekend. You’re beautiful the way you are, don’t forget to tell yourself that too! 😉

 

Xoxo,

❤ Ashley

PLANNING FOR MY SUCCESS

Passion Planner

Happy Sunday night!

I’m writing this post tonight with a grateful heart + a lot of excitement. Let me explain… I have this personality trait of loving to plan for things. Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed planning out my outfits, what my week is going to be like + what I’m going to get at the grocery store 5 days from now. That being said, I truly enjoy planning out my weekly projects + meetings on Sundays.

This afternoon I spent a few hours sitting down with my new planner (I use an academic planner, so I get a new one in each summer) + started plotting out big meetings, dates, speaking engagements and the extra fun stuff like birthdays + anniversaries! 🙂 What I found particularly exciting about today was that I had an empty planner full of a year’s worth of dates + saw it as 365 days/opportunities to make my personal goals happen.

If you asked me a year ago what I wanted to accomplish in the next year, I had it a lot more planned out. I wanted to be a semester away from graduating with my Master’s degree, be living in my first house with my husband, have a published book + a few other things added to that list as well. The thing is, plans change + we grow to evolve into the person we’re meant to be with each life experience + relationship. I used to despise that unknown + having plans change both expectedly + unexpectedly. I wanted to know what was going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month + five minutes from now… but something really cool happened last summer that brought me to this place of serenity + being present in the now. That thing was life changing + happened completely organically + out of the blue. That thing was me chartering my own Toastmasters club for women in my community.

So, Toastmasters… have you heard of it? From my personal experience as well as what I’ve heard from friends + family, is that many people are familiar with what it’s called, but don’t really know what it IS. Toastmasters was introduced to me by my therapist when I mentioned to her that I wanted to groom my public speaking skills. That’s when she brought up the suggestion of me finding a club in my area as many clubs are open to the public. I searched + found there was a need for a club in my community, strictly for women. It was a complete shock + very exciting to be approached by a woman in my professional community to start a club specifically for this opportunity. I was both honored + scared as I had no clue of what this would all involve.

Without hesitating, I said YES and jumped right in to researching, attending meetings as a guest in the valley + prepared info sessions to help women in my area learn about this opportunity to learn + grow professionally. Without getting into all of the details here as Toastmasters is a whole separate blog post, the point I want to convey here is that my being myself + pursuing my interests, this opportunity came knocking at my door. Was I planning for this to happen, absolutely not! I was caught completely off-guard when it came up, yet at the same time… the opportunity fit the bill + aligned with my passion + personal goals alike.

As I sat in front of my planner with a hot cup of coffee this morning, I felt no need to fill each page with everything possible + set out to write out the goals I wish to accomplish in the next 12 months. Instead, I took the opportunity to reflect on the infinite possibilities that are ahead of me if I keep an open mind + keep being TRUE TO MYSELF.

It’s taken me so many years to become this real with myself + who I am with the world. I’m still working on being the most authentic version of me each day as I don’t think there’s an ending place with this- it’s more of a lifelong journey to be your best self. What a great feeling to sit in front of a planner + just embrace the future opportunity ahead without obsessing or getting worried about the unknown! So here’s to going into this week with an open mind + being open to possibilities + many days of exciting things ahead…. whatever they might be!

xoxo,

❤ Ashley

BODY IMAGE + IMPERFECTIONS

blog photo

Real talk here today, guys.

I spend quite a bit of energy focusing on positive body image + self-confidence, yet I don’t focus so much on the actual body image goals I’ve conquered myself. This is something I’m looking to change + start to shed more light on! If you follow me on Instagram @mrs.fabulaws + watch Instagram live videos, you may have seen that I was challenged today to step out of my comfort zone + tackle things I don’t normally do. AHHHH!!! Well here is the 2nd task I’m conquering today… I’m talking about BODY IMAGE + my  15+ year battle with my own body.

If you’ve followed my story the past few weeks + read my posts here, you’ll know I am recovered from anorexia + bulimia. It was one of the hardest things I will probably ever accomplish in my life because I was truly addicted to my eating disorder as I believed it gave me life (when reality it was slowly killing me)+ helped me mask what I was really feeling on the inside. My eating disorder also helped me cope with body image issues I had been battling for years. My eating disorder gave me a false sense of security… not to mention a false sense of self-worth.

Being a dancer growing up and an NFL cheerleader into my 20’s, I was always posing + focused on what my body looked like even as a young girl. I learned how to take a good photo + how to position myself as I grew older when I wanted to look slim, happy, prettier… you name it! Are you guilty of posting a half-profile stance with a toe popped pose while you flash your best smile (or half smile to be cool + trendy)? Yep, I thought so! 😉 Instagram is flooding with photos like the description I give here + I’M A PART of that population TOO! I am not perfect + I do want to put my best foot forward… so I am admitting that I need to post more real-moment photos + stop posting so much for the camera. Consider this as my first step toward making that change please! 😉  The message I want to get across here is that it’s perfectly OK to love your un-posed pictures of yourself showing the extra skin, imperfect legs + the things you would normally crop out or include even the outtakes you would otherwise find yourself deleting.

The photo I’m posting here is a real photo of me at the beach with my thighs touching, skin hanging over my swim suit + still having a great time… + guess what… I still think I look beautiful! I have come a long way from the image I used to believe I had to look like + feeling disgusted when I look at myself in the mirror. I am no longer dying to look perfect or have everyone think I am beautiful or have the best abs… because I love who I am + the body I’m in now + that’s what matters most. So let’s get to the good stuff… how did I overcome that fear + learn to love my touching thighs + body (insecurities + all)? Through positive SELF-TALK, saying AFFIRMATIONS to yours truly throughout the day, surrounding myself with other ladies who love themselves, by cutting out shows about body image/modeling + of course lots of therapy! 😉 You might not need to take your body + self-love to therapy, but I do encourage you to tell yourself some positive affirmations each day + let go of that idea of perfect image. It has truly brought me so much happiness + self-confidence letting that idea go. Are you struggling with body image or self-confidence too? Join me + be #bodyconfident by believing in yourself + being kind to your body today! ❤

xoxo,

Ashley

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

AZCC

This past weekend I led a workshop on public speaking with the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders + it was such a blast!

It is no secret that I LOVE connecting with women who want to better themselves and work toward a common goal. Who doesn’t?! It’s been a passion of mine for almost a decade to work with other women as I discover how I can learn and grow to be a better person + I’ve been so lucky to work with amazing groups + teams along the way! It wasn’t until this weekend that I worked with one of my favorite teams to date… enter the Arizona Cardinals Cheerleaders. 🙂 This team is made up of 30 incredible women who are excited to tackle new goals this football season + become better representatives for their employer. Can I just say… YESSSSSS ladies!!!!

Together, we worked to review tips + tricks as to how to address a room of strangers, identified personal goals + steps to achieve them, followed by practicing a hands on activity to practice our public speaking skills. I was truly blown away by the natural talent these women have to connect with their audience + feel comfortable in the spotlight. Their ease + natural poise in front of their peers was something to be noticed + I couldn’t help but to root them on as I watched + coached their timing skills + ability to avoid particular wording and pauses.

What did I enjoy most about this engagement? I’d say it’s a fair tie between two different things. Let me share why I can’t decide…

While working with this group of women, I loved seeing each woman complete her public speaking activity with a smile on her face. Were they nervous at first? I’d say probably a little bit as dancing/performing and speaking in front of an audience are two completely different things! 😉 The team of 30 + their Director all cheered for one another while they encouraged each other, standing in front of a conference room about to try something new + daring. It was such a rush to be a part of this experience as I couldn’t help but to cheer them on myself. This is why I’m all about empowering women, it brings teams or groups of beautiful people together to feel stronger, accomplished, and unified. Can I get a hell yeah?! 🙂

 

The other reason I loved this particular engagement so much is because I used to be an NFL cheerleader myself. I loved the time I spent on my team as I learned so much from my peers + looked up to the girls who were setting out to accomplish incredible things right before my eyes. It inspired be to become a better person + I had the most amazing role models. What a blessing! It was quite an experience being a part of an organization that brings so many people together in one community. As a cheerleader or dancer, you are given  to connect with others in your community + it’s vital to have the skills + confidence to feel you can represent your organization to be a better team as a whole. Looking forward to working with other teams to build up their leadership and communication skills, it truly fills my heart! ❤

 

xoxo,

Ashley