Welcome Back!!

Hi everyone!! Thank you so much for coming back to my blog that has been inactive since June 2017...!!! I really am so sorry for that; I never wanted to quit blogging for that long, so I am stoked that I can finally blog again. I'll attempt to explain my absence in this blog post, but this is truly like a flashback to January 2015 when I had to take a two month blogging break because I was busy designing my blog and rebranding it. I don't even know where to start!!! I'm already almost done with my freshman year of high school, which feels surreal! It seriously feels like each year goes by quicker, and this impatient girl doesn't necessarily mind that because I'm looking forward to things like college, publishing my writing, etc. But then I'm also learning to appreciate each moment, because there are some things I'm not looking forward to, like getting a job, learning to drive...ugh.

But gosh do we have catching up to do! I have so many posts I want to share over my faith and what I've been learning, so many stories I want to tell you all, and obviously, writing updates also.

I suppose we should start with why I was gone! You all probably thought I died. Thankfully I didn't, and I'm back with this blog being pink and sparkly as always! (Sorry, that's one thing that will never die.)

Okay, so, my last post it looks like was June 2017, in which I announce my hiatus from social media. That was probably one of the first things that caused me to take a break from blogging. I think I put too much pressure on myself to be writing super long, intellectual, perfect blog posts that will help people and contribute to something in their life. Because that seems to be what blogging has become. If you're not giving a tutorial in your blog posts or sharing something practical that can help people, then you're not making worthwhile blog posts, right? Wrong. I miss the days when bloggers just used to write about their thoughts and life. That was more helpful to me than some how to post or anything along those lines, because I was making connections with them and I felt like I could relate to their life, and they entertained me with their writing.

I talked about in this post, also, all of the pressures I felt to blog this way. And I think, honestly, that's the reason I stopped blogging for so long. Because that's not me. I don't want to worry about making how to posts for things; I just want to write about my thoughts with faith, life, and everything else. As a writer, I really do believe in the power of words, and I hope that when people read my blog, they can take a break from the stresses of their life and be entertained for a little while or, more importantly than that, that maybe they can even be inspired in their faith, which will then help them face the stresses in their life.

Because that's my goal in life and my goal as a writer: to inspire and entertain people. I don't want to entertain people in the sense that I help you escape from your life. This world has enough fluffy crap you can read if an escape is what you want, and that's not in and of itself bad—sometimes I like to read books and movies just to get a mental break, too—but I also think there's a fine line. This society has a literal OBSESSION with entertainment, and for so many people, it's like a drug. It truly is something they do so that they never have to deal with the pain of life—buy a million books, buy travel tickets, go shopping for luxury items you'll put on a credit card, buy season tickets to sports games, and the list goes on and on. And don't get me wrong: it's not a sin to go shopping, or to travel, or to a sports game. But it can be a problem when you buy all of these things just because you're desperate to get a high off of them.

So, do I want to entertain through my writing? Of course. But I also want to be authentic and real with you, and so I'm going to share my faith and write about deep, serious topics because as a society, we need to do a better job of facing the pain in our lives instead of trying to hide it and run away from it. And maybe if I open up and be real, it will inspire you to do so, also.

So that's where I want to go from here. I did end up deleting all of my social media, and I thank God I did, because it was truly destroying my mental health. I remember on Instagram, specifically, I would be looking at these people's profiles, and I would be literally shaking because it made me so upset how people portrayed their highlight reel of life, as if every day was full of traveling and hanging out with friends and the like. So I needed to be done; I just can't handle inauthenticity like that. It's becoming the norm, and I just shake my head at that. The only social media I did decide to keep was Facebook, because the other day as I knew I was getting close to finalizing my blog again, and I got to be thinking, how are people even going to know my blog is up again if I'm not on anything? So I decided to keep that; I figured I owe you all that much. :) My Facebook page is here!

Since I'm only on Facebook, it takes away so much of the pressure the other social media did: I don't have to worry about creating a bunch of images for Pinterest or Instagram; I don't have to send out five thousand tweets on Twitter to promote my posts. I'm all about marketing yourself, but once again, I think there's a fine line. There comes a point where I just have to write and then trust God to get my writing in the eyes of people who need it, instead of me tirelessly trying to promote myself and then in the process, getting sick of writing altogether.

Going forward from here, I am saying this to keep myself accountable: I'm not going to worry about planning out so many blog posts. I'm totally a perfectionist, and so I just overthink everything when it comes to my writing, and then that's usually why I only had one blog post coming out per week (if that!) because I have other responsibilities, too, so it just got pushed back. But now, I just want to share my thoughts. They may not always be perfect or articulate exactly what I want to say, but the whole point of me starting this blog even as a kid, was that I just wanted to share my observations on life through what I was learning. No how to posts. No fancy intellectual posts—those can be fun to write, and you'll see some of those sporadically, but again, they're super time consuming and don't necessarily reflect the authenticity I'm trying to shoot for with this blog.

I'm honestly going to try and update this blog every day, and once a week at the very least. Because really, I learn something everyday, and now since I've been gone forever, it's probably going to take me blogging everyday just to catch you all up with everything that's happened! I'm honestly so looking forward to it. I hope you guys know that me taking a break was in no way because I had given up on writing or that I stopped enjoying writing this blog. I have loved writing on this blog over the years, and I'm so thankful to God that He's given me this blog that hopefully gives Him glory.

So here's a little snapshot at what's to come in future posts (I'm putting this on here partly so that I can keep track of everything I want to share with you all, haha):
✧ things I do to renew my mind
✧ posts on topics like how I learned to show mercy, for example
✧ my views on some current social issues
✧ sharing some of my favorite quotes
✧ what I've learned through things like my favorite movies
✧ posts on deep topics like anxiety
✧ psychology and how it applies to life
✧ another letter to my future husband because I've been dying to do that ;) (first one here)
✧ and a ton more!
✧ basically, just my life, thoughts, and faith

I also have to say something real quick, too: this blog covers a lot of deep and oftentimes controversial issues. My blog posts are my opinions, and of course, I try to be educated with my opinions and have the facts to back up why I think a certain way, but at the end of the day, they're my thoughts and you can do as you will with them. If you don't agree with me, that's fine, but it's just a fair warning so that people don't come on here and get nasty about things in the comments or whatever. If you don't like my writing, then of course you don't have to read it, but the one thing I won't tolerate is hateful comments. Thankfully I haven't had many instances like that, but it's just a little disclaimer I have to have.

With that being said, two other reasons that contributed to my absence that I forgot to mention: anxiety and my photo site that I use to design images for this blog.

My freshman year was terrible in terms of anxiety; I've always had some anxiety throughout my life, and I've always been a worrier, but it was really bad this year, for whatever reason. I think it stripped a lot of motivation away for blogging, but now that I'm back, that's yet another thing I'm looking forward to writing about. It's not that writing about anxiety is fun, but I hope it can be another opportunity that I can share my own struggles in hopes to help you with yours. Because as much as it has sucked dealing with anxiety, God has taught me a lot having gone through it. Really. I didn't think there was a lot I would learn through it, but there has been, and I know it will make me stronger in the future. I think it already has.

Ah, and then there was this site I use to design my images. I had been using them since the very beginning of this blog: clear back to 2014 and actually maybe even back to 2013 or 2012, as this blog wasn't the first time I'd gotten into designing things like that. And it always used to be free! I mean, sure, there was an option to pay monthly if you wanted to be able to use all of their features, but you still had features to choose from and could make and download images for free.

UNTIL 2017.

No, in 2017, they got the wonderful idea to make me pay monthly just to SAVE my images to my computer. And it was like $10 per month! Sure, that may not sound like much, but keep in mind I'm just a broke little freshman. I don't have ten bucks to spend every month on making my images.

So it took me forever, but finally I bit the bullet and bought it because I couldn't live without my pink and sparkly images. The reason this blog has had a password is because, ON TOP OF ALL THE OTHER REASONS I LISTED FOR MY ABSENCE, I was trying to do a rebrand of my entire blog. I just got to be thinking that well hey, when in doubt completely redo your blog design! (I have done this since I started blogging, for those of you who are knew; it's a problem I still haven't solved.) I was thinking I should pick new colors, new everything! So I came up with some color palettes on Pinterest and then sent out a survey on Twitter with the different options and asked which palette people thought would go with me/my blog best. I should also probably mention that my original colors—pink and gold—were an option in that survey.

And what did they pick? The pink and gold. So nothing has changed! And you know what, I think I needed people to pick that, and it's God's way of saying that I need to get a grip on the whole changing-my-blog-design-every-week thing. But I am content for the time being now! Next week, probably not, but oh well, I'll deal with that. At least now I have a blog design and I can write, and I'm thrilled about that.

But seriously, can you just imagine me with my house one day? I have this same issue with my room, where I constantly change my mind on the colors and overall look of it. My mom is fed up with me; she says she's going to decorate my room if I don't figure things out soon. But yeah, with my actual HOUSE? I will probably change the decorations and look of things every month. My husband will probably want to kill me. So yeah, maybe learning to get a grip now would be the wise thing to do...? I still have a couple years until buying a house, we'll see if I can learn to be content with my blog designs in that time...

Last but not least for this post, I want to show you all what I updated and where you can find the info you may happen to need or want if you want to creep on me or something, which I won't judge you for because I do that all the time to people. I would be lying if I didn't say that part of the reason I got back on Facebook was because I missed creeping on people. ;) My family tries to guilt trip me for this, saying that I "stalk" people, to which I reply that if people don't have their accounts private, it's simply using your resources, case closed. ;) (Part of the reason I "stalk" people is for writing research, and, well, some of it just because I'm nosy... But sometimes I do have a legitimate reason...)

My About Page

Go here if you want to stalk me, er, learn more about me, and you can read my whole "story" and testimony of how I became a Christian and basically my whole life story. I'll make using your resources easy. ;) Because God knows I hate that feeling when I'm doing writing research and have read every article there ever was on a situation and still can't find the info I need.

Frequently Asked Questions

I brought this page back so that you could easily ask me a question, you know, in case you're like me and have read every thing you could and still can't find the answer to your question. ;) If there are questions that a lot of people wonder, they'll be posted there.

Journey/formerly "Resources"

I combined my old "Resources page" with all of the posts that basically go over my writing and faith journey, as well as the best posts of my blog. Once again, use your resources. ;)

Writing

This page is very much a work in progress, but it's where I will put all of my writing/writing updates for easy access.

Contact

Last but not least, my contact page with a form and my email should you need to get in touch with me. And don't hesitate to!

I think that's everything I wanted to say in this first post. This reminds me of starting the first draft of a new book; I have about ten million thoughts in my mind and have no way to organize them except by simply beginning to write. And speaking of first drafts...I have been productive in the sense that I've begun my second novel! I will share details on that in one of the next thousand blog posts I have on my queue. ;)

Maybe I'll just have to send out ten posts in a day? Well, now that there's no pressure and I'm completely abandoning all the blogging "rules", why not?! Haha, we'll see, because unfortunately I still have homework I should probably get to...eventually...

I really am so grateful that I get to share my writing with you all, though, and I'm thrilled to start up again. Don't hesitate to comment below or get in touch with me elsewhere about whatever it may be; I LOVE hearing from you all and it's been FOREVER since I have! :) Thank you again for your continued support over the years. Many, many blog posts to come... Get ready and have your Facebook feed brace itself. :)

Ashlee Mae