All posts by Ashley

Yoga Teacher Training…what’s that??

Today I leave for California. While there, I’ll be taking a month-long yoga teacher training course at YogaWorks in Costa Mesa, California – right in the heart of Orange County. When not at classes, I can indulge myself at Laguna, Newport, or Huntington Beach, visit DisneyLand, see the giant Hollywood sign, or drive an hour-and-a-half to San Diego. While this sounds like a vacation (and I’m sure it’ll turn into one Friday night-Sunday night), I’ll actually be quite busy taking classes.

Come August 31, I’ll have earned my 200-hour certificate which means I can teach at smaller studios around the world. There is such thing as a 500-hour cert and people who attain those can teach at major studios and can also teach others how to be a yoga instructor. Throughout the next month, I’ll be taking classes from 7:15-4:15 every day, as well as a multitude of yoga classes outside of the training. In the end, I’ll essentially be “doing yoga” for 200 hours in a month! There are training courses where you can attend only on the weekends, but doing this would take months and months, which frankly I don’t have. Without a steady income at the moment, I need to get done with schooling as soon as possible so that I can start my new adventure. Doing this intensive training course means that what takes most people weekend upon weekend upon weekend, I’ll be done with in 4 weeks and I’ll be doing it in California!!

Will I teach yoga when I’m finished? At this point, I really hope I can find places to do it. I’d like to combine my editing and writing efforts for freelance positions then teach yoga at a studio (or studios) all in the comforts of Chicago. That’s my plan now…who knows what’ll happen come September. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to work 7-4 every day?

I’m excited (albeit a bit nervous) for the coming weeks mostly because this is a dream that I’ve had for a long time and I’m taking my destiny into my own hands to do something that I love. My moving to Hong Kong was my first step in becoming me, this is the next. Here’s to a great month continuing to figure out my life!

Quit Playin’ Games, Fool

Even as a kid, playing games wasn’t really my thing.  No dodge ball and definitely not Nintendo. Boys, on the other hand, loved games…and judging by the guys I’ve met and/or dated in the past few years, they still love to play games – only now it’s with girls’ hearts. It seems like almost an impossible feat for guys to be open and honest, for them to fall in love or at least be open to the possibility of it.  What happened to the days when you said what you felt and you did what you said you were going to do?

At 28 years old, I’ve dated my fare share of guys, with a rough estimate of 80% of them who aren’t honest about what they want or what they’re feeling.  If you know me at all, you know that honesty has never been a very difficult task for me (in fact, I’m a terrible liar!), so when I give someone my honest feelings, I expect the same courtesy in return.  Guys, is it so hard to express your feelings? Does a cat really tear apart your tongue every time the truth tries to escape?

Maybe the reason I keep meeting game players is because they aren’t the one. The right guy for me will call when he says, text when he’ll be late, send flowers when he misses me, take me on dates, ask me questions and listen attentively; he’ll be open about his feelings and won’t shut out mine.  And he’ll do all of this because he wants to, not because I ask him to.  I don’t play games and I don’t want my man to either (unless of course it’s baseball).  And if he does, he ain’t the right man for me.  Been there, done that, lost that game more times than I dare to admit.

Sometimes, Growing Up Is Easy To Do

For the past 5 years I’ve lived in 2 polar opposite places: Ottawa, IL and Hong Kong.  These locations could not be any more different.  Ottawa with 19,000 people, a whole lotta townies, few restaurants, as well as a Wal-Mart and 2 strip clubs that welcome you into town. Hong Kong has 7,000,000 inhabitants from the world over, more restaurants than you could count, as well as dance clubs and bars galore.  Even though these cities are so different, they both helped me to grow into the adult and the person that I am today.  Ottawa taught me how to be an adult: renting, bills, utilities, making small talk, being independent, grocery shopping, working, taking care of a car, my own well-being, and making friends.  When I moved to Hong Kong, I was already an adult who knew the basics of being an adult, but my life lessons expanded by moving away from every single person I knew.  Hong Kong made me, well, me. It helped me figure out who I am as a person; it taught me lessons on how to be happy, how to make genuine friends, find what I consider fun, and how to live on my own (really, really on my own).  Ottawa made me an adult, Hong Kong made me Ashley. And to have had both experiences in such a short amount of time, makes me really grateful for both of them. I went to Ottawa today and got misty-eyed about all the things I missed about it and even though that list is short and mostly contains the people I like, Ottawa was good to me. I’m not sad I left there, but glad I took the chance to be me. If I hadn’t left Ottawa, I may have never found out that cosmos are my fave drink, dated a Brit (or 12), gone on a safari, made friends from other countries, danced ‘til 5am, or lived in a shoebox-sized apartment. So, thank you, Ottawa for making me want to leave so that I could find Hong Kong. And, thank you, Hong Kong for making me want to leave to find out what else is out there in the world and to help me keeping finding, well, me.

Insert Sad Face Here

Home is great—of course it’s great, with its big refrigerators, friendly people, country roads, and my family nearby it was bound to be great.  And though the adage always says “Home is where the heart is,” I’ve definitely left a little piece of my heart in Hong Kong.

Living alone in a country 8,000 miles away from my family taught me a good lesson on biting my lip and shoving down the tears. If I’d cried every time I was frustrated, sad, lonely, or upset in Hong Kong, I could have rowed my way back home, but instead I sucked it up and moved on. Thanks to this new-found ability to “cry without crying,” I’ve wiped away only a few tears since hopping on a plane at HKIA. The first time was when I found a card that my friend Jamie had given to me on the morning before I left. I’d tucked it away in my suitcase and forgot to open it until I started unpacking; when I finally slipped it out of the envelope, even the outside made tears spring to my eyes. “Cupcake Queen” the card boasted with a handwritten arrow pointing to it, saying “That’s you!” Inside, Jamie made a list of the top 10 reasons she’ll miss me, including:

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…country girl…

“Brother, she’s all country

…to her down home roots

…from the song she plays.

That’s the way she was born and raised.

She ain’t afraid to stay country.”

Lyrics modified from “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean


I’ve been home now for over two weeks and each new day – and sometimes hour – brings about a revelation with something that I love about living in the country.  Yes, Sycamore is surrounded by cornfields as far as the eye can see in some places, but with a population of over 17,000 people, we are far from destitute. It is, though, a great little country town with nice people, big houses, yards with grass (!!), and, most importantly, my family.

1.    Driving- While public transportation in Hong Kong is world-class, I really just love driving my car.  You can turn on the radio (see #2), go at your own speed, and because it’s the country, there is a lot of open road with no one in the way (minus a tractor or two haha).

2.    The radio- Country music is what I’ve lived my life by for the last 13 years (when I was 16, I hated listening to the same songs over and over again on the radio, so I forced myself to listen to country stations and I fell in love). I still listen to the pop stations or oldies occasionally, but having the choice of channels, especially in the car…and in English…is great. The best part? Singing in my car at the top of my lungs and grooving to the music. Singing and dancing while listening to my MP3 player and walking through the crowded streets? Not possible!

3.    Food- Cookie dough, bacon, frozen pizzas, oh my! Yes, I’ll probably gain a bunch of weight back, but it’ll taste damn good!

4.    Laundry- Having a dryer is unexpectedly amazing. Even though my rooftop was a fine place to hang out clothes to dry (and to have a glass of wine), it certainly wasn’t ideal with the rain, sun, and humidity mucking up my plans to do laundry.

5.    Refrigerators- Not that my fridge is monster-size or anything, but it’s big enough to hold a gallon of milk and that’s really all I need! Living off of a mini-fridge was hard enough in college when I had a cafeteria to eat in, let alone when I’m an adult who enjoys cooking.

6.    The people- Of course my friends and my students in HK were nice, but they were sometimes the only people who would smile at me all day long. Waitresses? No! Taxi drivers? No! Patrons on the MTR? Definitely not! Everyone (okay, the majority) is so nice here. I missed the friendly disposition of the bankers and the waiters in my small town; sure the latter are working for a tip, but at least they smile and act like they want to be bringing me a pineapple margarita.

7.    Family- This should probably be at #1, but having my family (and friends) nearby is definitely a perfect reason to be at home in the country.

8.    Big houses with big yards- There may be a drought this summer, but when the rain starts pouring and the grass gets greener, I am going to love my yard. Hong Kong is notorious for weedy grass sporting “Do Not Walk” signs at the edge. With luscious, soft grass next to my parents’ 2-story house, there’s almost no need to leave!

Not everything in Sycamore is perfect and there’s definitely stuff I miss about Hong Kong, so stay tuned to find out what has made tears prickle in my eyes and what made my heart sad I’m not in HK anymore.  

I vow

I vow to be more open-minded when I move back home.  Hong Kong has taught me a valuable lesson in opening myself to the possibilities that something else great, better, or even fantastic can be waiting around the corner, if only I’m willing to open my eyes to see the light.  Tonight, I went out for drinks with a fellow Sassy blogger whom I’ve known for a few months; besides chatting at our writer events, we’ve never spent time together outside of Sassy.  We had a great time sipping on raspberry martinis and chatting about life; now with only 2 weeks left, I’m sad that she and I never agreed to meet up sooner.

I’ve met all of my friends in Hong Kong through a quirky girl with whom I used to work.  None of my closest friends are random girls I just went up to and said, “Hi, I’m Ashley, let’s be friends.”  Okay, so that’s a ridiculous way to meet people, but how hard is it to go up to someone you’ve never met before and make conversation?  Apparently really, really hard because almost no one I know does it…except in Hong Kong.

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