All posts by Ashley

What else can I do but write?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

These, my friends, are trying times. Life is rough here in 2020. The Coronavirus is in full swing – taking people out left and right. We’re stuck at home in hopes of keeping the virus at bay. But healthcare workers are certain that nearly everyone will get it, no matter what precautions we take. We’re being told to stay at home and to only leave for essentials like dog walks and grocery runs. Toilet paper is sold out in nearly every store. Furlough days are being passed out like candy on Halloween.

We’ve got Netflix. We’ve got Zoom. We’ve got #wfh (future self, that means working from home).

Stores are closed. Restaurants are only open for takeout or delivery. Grocery stores – once a beloved place I could spend an hour traversing the aisles and reading labels – have become anxiety inducing experiences. What if the virus is on the carts? What if the cashier has it? What if the store doesn’t have any of the items I need or want? What if I don’t wipe down everything I bring home well enough and I get the virus?

And then if I get the virus, what happens to me? I live alone, besides my very adorable dog. Bruno can’t go to the grocery store. Bruno can’t walk himself. Bruno can’t take care of a sick person.

Thank god for my parents. Maybe I’m not supposed to go back and forth between two towns (because we’re supposed to be sheltering in place, as in ONE place), but the only thing keeping me sane right now (besides my very adorable dog) is the fact that I have people to cook with and go to the grocery store for me, and then I also have my very own home with no humans around.

Many people have taken up new hobbies. Many people are taking daily yoga classes virtually and for free. Many people are bettering themselves with virtual visits to national parks and museums. I am not many people in this instance. I am an anxious, can’t-sleep-through-the-night person who cries at least five times a day. I walk by empty restaurants and tear up because places I enjoyed are closed and people are out of jobs. I look at my very adorable dog and tear up because I’m so grateful to have him for hugs and an excuse to go for walks (at least) four times a day.

Today, I had to let my staff go. My organization can no longer afford to pay them. I may be on the chopping block next, or soon, or someday. Which that not knowing is stressful. I don’t even think my organization can afford to pay me right now, but somehow they are and for that I am grateful.

Another thing helping keeping me on the (in)sane train? Dating. Well, not like dating dating. More like having conversations with random strangers on apps. No phone numbers exchanged. No ability to meet up in real life any time in the foreseeable future. Just chatting with strangers about random things.

Other positives: more time with family (even if it is just virtually), starting a yoga class for my family and friends (even if it is just virtually), reading uplifting books (also virtually), and a rather clean apartment (not virtual at all).

Nearly every podcast I listen to is about the Coronavirus. I wish they weren’t though as they were once a break from reality. Now, I pick and choose the ones that are bound to make me laugh.

The sun was shining today. Bruno and I got in our 10,000 steps. Oh, and I busted out my blog for the first time in a while. I really felt that I needed to start writing this all out because someday when we’re no longer in bizzaro-world, I’ll want to remember this. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the scary.

This is not the end. We’re only in week three of shelter in place. Other countries have been facing this for longer and are maybe, hopefully, coming out on the other side. There were deaths. The economy tanked. But they got through it. And I hope everyone I know does, too.

 

Can the Universe Get it Wrong?

For many years, I felt like the universe had made a mistake.

When making plans at age 18 to do an overnight visit at my now alma mater, I was adamant that I stay in a sorority and see what real life was like living in a sorority house. In fact, when looking at colleges, I refused to attend any schools that didn’t have sorority houses. I was enamored with the idea of living in a house full of sisters. So, when I set up my overnight visit to Illinois Wesleyan, I made sure to request that the overnight portion be at a Greek house. My request was granted and a girl from AGD showed me around, let me shadow her in classes, and stay in their dormer overnight.

I was smitten. After that visit, I knew that I was going to IWU and I knew that I was going to going to join AGD. But, when Bid Day came, AGD turned me down. I got my second choice. And that was the first time I felt like the universe had made a mistake. I cried and cried. But, I accepted the offer of my second choice. And I thrived for the first two years there. Until, I met a boy. That boy took me out of my fun-loving self and into his world. And, for some unknown reason, I left my own world willingly. I left the friends I’d made with no kicking or screaming – from either the friends or from me.

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A Visit to Low Country

Last summer, my friend Annie and I decided to take our first (non-work) vacation together. After reviewing my “Where to travel in the U.S.” list, we settled on Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.

Flights were pretty inexpensive in/out of Charleston, so we decided to rent a car to make the most out of our Low Country experience and travel through Hilton Head to Savannah. This list is simply what we did – I’m sure there are a LOT of places we didn’t hit up since we only had a few days.

Charleston, SC

This southern city is all charm. Known for its good food and historical sites, the city deserves a few days of your time.

Food & Drinks
  • Check out King Street for a bunch of restaurants, dessert shops, and happy hour specials.
  • Callie’s Charleston Biscuits – This is a must for breakfast! We tried a few of their little biscuits with toppings like cinnamon and blackberry jam, as well as the biscuit breakfast sandwiches. We ate a lot of biscuits for two people.

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Sightseeing
  • Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens – Did you know that the movie The Notebook was partially filmed in Charleston? Click on that link and you’ll recognize that while in Charleston, they filmed at Boone Hall. Claiming to be “America’s most photographed plantation,” it’s worth the visit just to drive down the lane. Be sure to do the hay ride to get a glimpse of the working farm and grounds.

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Volunteer Hours

When I moved from Chicago, I left behind multiple volunteer positions. Now that I’m settled into my home and Bruno and I have a good routine down, I was ready to give back again.

My first volunteer shift at the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry was tonight and it was wonderful. Each Wednesday and Saturday, the pantry opens its doors to those in need to collect groceries. My role tonight was as shopping assistant; this means I helped people pick what food they wanted to take home with them.

All of the shoppers were extremely grateful and happy. When a fellow volunteer asked one woman how she was doing, she had a big smile on her face, saying, “I’m blessed. I will have a meal tonight.” She then choked up, and said, “I didn’t have anything to eat last night.” I also got a little choked up, but tried not to show it when she came to my station.

I love living in Oak Park for many reasons, one including how nice everyone always is. All of the fellow volunteers were extremely friendly.

As soon as I got home, I signed up for a monthly slot! It was a great evening and I’m looking forward to going back.

In 5 Years

When you’re asked where you see yourself in 5 years, do you have a ready answer? I, for one, do not. And rarely in my adult life have I had an answer. The only time I could name an aspiration was when I really wanted to teach overseas. Sure, I’ve wanted to do things – buy a place, complete yoga teacher training, etc. – but never have I known where I wanted to be in 5 years’ time. 

I wonder if this has to do with the fact that I like all sorts of things and find it difficult to pinpoint the ONE thing I want to concentrate my career toward. Do I want to teach yoga full-time? Not really. Do I want to pursue another job in the travel sector? Not really. Do I want to go back to teaching? Not really. Do I want to move up in the Girl Scout organization? Not really. Is it okay to be perfectly happy doing exactly what I’m doing right now and aspire to be doing exactly what I’m doing in 5 years?? Is that an aspiration? 

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6 Things I’m Learning about Relationships from Owning a Dog

I am infamously bad at romantic relationship and/or I have had infamously unsuccessful romantic relationships. I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to get it right. My (non-romantic) relationship with Bruno, the wonder dog, has been pretty darn successful, though. The past four months of dog ownership have been both challenging and super great. Bruno is seriously adorable and he loves me like crazy (can you say mama’s boy?!). Might I dare say, that I love Bruno more than any man I’ve ever dated???? I mean, how could you not with a face like this?

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And even though he’s a dog and I’m a hooman, I think I’m learning quite a great deal about how to have a relationship with people, romantic or otherwise.

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