“I’m not going to take my daughter’s fierceness personally. My mom took all my behavior personally and thought it was rebellion against her. It was just me being me. I want to remember this with my daughter. It’s not about me.” P!nk

I try.

I’ve had this P!nk quote saved on every phone I’ve owned since I emerged into motherhood. Being a mama is the one thing I have always cared about, yet it’s also the one thing that can crush me into a thousand pieces on any given day. It changes from moment to moment. I’ve had so many role models paving the way, guiding me to be able to handle this with grace.

Yet…

I struggle with wiping the slate clean when I am not the mama I want to be or when her behavior doesn’t reflect what I feel we try to instill in her. She deserves the best, and I feel I fall short on too many occasions.

I try.

I try to remember that intensity isn’t for everyone. Sometimes it’s not even for our self. But many of us are born with it in our hearts and our minds. It often creates distance and inconsistency in relationships and within ourselves. It can be a living hardship, heavy to carry much like a burden. But her intensity is her own, even if it was bred into her from us as intense parents.

But when we live as God intends and we open our hearts and minds, we just might surprise one another. I admire her for all that she is. And all that she is isn’t always about me or about us.

Acceptance is beautiful.

Ashlei Humpert

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“They cause the first wound, but you are causing the rest; this is what not forgiving does. They got it started, but you keep it going. Forgive and let go, or it will eat you alive. You think they made you feel this way, but when you won’t forgive, you are the one inflicting the pain on yourself.” – Bryant McGill

When I looked at you….

I never saw you. I saw someone else no matter how hard or for how long I stared at you. Your reflection was not that of your own. A stranger. A lost child. Her. I didn’t see you. I couldn’t see inside you, what encompassed you as a whole. Nor could I see the outward world through your eyes.

I watched as you went through the motions, just enough to get by. You weren’t beautiful. Your weren’t special. You were nobody. No one, including me, could see you because you didn’t show them and you didn’t show me.

I didn’t see your love of life. I saw your stupidity, just as others saw you. I saw you giving up and in turn others giving up on you. I could only see your struggles and how they determined and defined you. I saw how they ate you up, shredding you apart with every bite until they consumed you bit by bit.

I saw how you struggled to communicate with words, stumbling through sentences feeling shy and misunderstood. I didn’t see the confidence in the way your words could swim across a page. I only saw and heard the choppy waves spewing from your face. No one could see them glide when you wrote,only judging you by how you spoke . If only you would have written, if only you could write.

I only saw your inadequacies with calculating simple math, only a moron couldn’t do it in their head. I saw you disappointing your “teachers.” I couldn’t see that you needed more time, just someone to believe.

I couldn’t see your trouble processing information or the angst it created within you. I only saw dumb and so did you.

I saw you start to see yourself the way you believed them to. You began to make mistakes, and I watched it slowly destroy you.

But I see you now, and I hear you loud and clear.

Ashlei Humpert

“Always remember someone’s effort is a reflection of their interest in you.” Unknown

i am trying to instill worth within you

i am trying to teach you acceptance of others that may differ from you in every way

i am trying to build your ability to trust the intentions of those who show up time and time again

i am trying to help you chip away at the wall you’ve built around yourself

i am trying to encourage your paticipation and purpose as your words and thoughts carry weight

i am listening and i hear every word spoken, every hurt, every struggle, every victory – even those left unspoken

i am trying to show you that it is okay to be vulnerable, baring your true self, your true identity

i am trying to connect with you, but you must  first make the choice to let me in

i care for you

i hurt for you

i am happy for you

i am proud of you

i will fight for you if you fight for yourself

i believe in you

and i am here trying for you

i have, i am and i will never stop trying

for you

i think it is fair for me to ask and expect the same of you in return

your words, gestures, behavior or indifference only draws me nearer while driving yourself further from who you are meant to become

because nothing, no one, can take away my reason 

to try 

to care 

not even you

because i didn’t come here to give up on you 

ashlei humpert

 

Decide. “So do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out and decide.” Meredith Grey

I left the school district with equal fear and faith. I prayed over my decision without impulsivity. I asked for a sign. My dear friend helped with providing that sign (I hung it on my wall), and our business was launched upon leaving. http://www.withthesewords.net/ has exceeded our expectations. Being able to mould our friendship into a business partnership and lucrative business has been a Godsend.

Leaving also allowed me to put more energy and purposeful planning into turning my blog into a mentorship. My two biggest passions are writing and working with youth. That is why I held onto fear anytime I contemplated leaving the teaching profession. But for me, I didn’t feel able to reach the youth in all the ways I felt God was calling me to. God has been working so hard on getting me here. Every decision, everything I went through led me here in a meaningful direction. So, the same dear friend happened to mention my blog and my goal of creating a workshop of some sort at United Way. Another dear woman, a true dot connector, believed in me and my vision. She connected me with Communities In Schools (funding my project supplies), and before I knew it, The Self Esteem Project (my own curriculum) was brought to fruition. I started the program after the Christmas Break with a group of young women in Jr High.

On January 5th, I received a message from a childhood friend asking if I was interested in a job with the foundation she works for. Again, another God wink! I went for it beginning in February, and now I am working toward becoming a Prevention Specialist in the impact youth prevention program. I am now surrounded by people who have the same fire in their hearts for working with at risk youth. The more I learn about the curriculum, the more I know I am not here by chance or by accident. It mirrors what I have been trying to portray since I started this blog in 2014.

I am grateful.

Ashlei Humpert

“Risk being seen in all your glory.” – Jim Carrey (excerpt from Commencement Address at the 2014 MUM Graduation)

When I was lost, I never dreamed of the damage I was putting myself under, much less anyone else. I, lost in my own mind, in my diluted version of reality, had “something.” I had, nor do I now have anymore of a sense of understanding about what that “something” was or even felt like. Maybe I believed I belonged then, but now know my heart was even more delusional at that time I am afraid. I had nothing with addiction except a lie. A lie that I was fun to be around…that I had support…that I fit in somewhere…that I had some sort of existence. I did just that. I merely existed. I had no purpose. I pretended not to care about living without a cause.

I’ve said it so many times my words may be said or read at nauseam, but I have felt compelled to share my story to serve my purpose. And with that comes a sense of obligation to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being careless with everything and everyone, including and what should be most important, myself. I had this urgency to try and reach this “something” that was forever unattainable. I hated so much about myself, and I wanted it all to go away. And with each day, I continued making the hate fester by making more poor choices. I was trying to pass the time thinking time would heal everything.

The self-doubt always creeps back in when I think about the influence I had over anyone else that was anything other than positive. At times the feelings wash over me, completely absorbing me. My husband always assures me of what it means to be an introvert. “You’ve got to stop apologizing for who you are. You are an extreme introvert and with that comes a lot of feelings and over-analyzing.” He’s right. But sometimes I grow tired, I grow weary. We all do.

I’m never going back to that life…to that person I used to be, but the truth is, I’m still that girl. No matter the capacity in which I’ve changed, turned a corner or u-turn, some things will always be. And I am always one decision away from moving forward or going backwards. I’ve been juggling feelings lately in missing some parts of my childhood. The more I try to get back to the little girl I once was, the more disconnected I feel from those I felt connected to as a child.

“I connect with souls, not faces.” unknown

I think I was always a misfit. Mistaken and wavering as a child in an attempt to fit in and hide the insecurities. {Maybe it’s my knack for seeing through the BS, being an INFJ, and that can create some distance. Maybe it’s the fact that I say what I am feeling, I oppose, I am passionate. I know it can be difficult.} But…whatever you do, stop apologizing for your feelings, for being you. Stop creating reasons and doubts for why someone else shouldn’t like or love you. Pay no mind to the quantity as long as they are equally as honest as they are supportive. And quit chasing acceptance; it’s unattainable.
“Do not lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.” unknown

I had friends that were good to me, for me. I shut so many of them out as I began to make myself transparent. I made mistakes and they could see them. They could see right through me. Or at least, at the time, that is the vulnerability I felt. Once you lose track and veer off path, you can start to believe the nothingness. You can create within you a hole, a void. You will begin to see yourself the way others do, or the way you may make yourself believe they do…

bad…broken…beaten…defeated

It’s so easy to feel obligated to fulfill that persona, to fit that stereotype that is imperfectly designed which isn’t you or made for you. Addiction wrote a chapter for me that left me grasping for a pen out of my reach. I wasn’t writing it. I was surrendering all control of my story. Do not get me wrong, I had the choice, and I made them. All of those that also led to situations where I was at the mercy of others.

But what I want to be heard here is this. I bailed out of my own life and out of the lives of the ones I loved. I wasn’t whole. I needed help. I reached out to you, but I didn’t ask for your help. I couldn’t, and I wasn’t able to help myself. Those who stuck around were brought down because of me, and for that I am forever indebted to making up for it. But those who stuck around did it because they loved me when I was unlovable, and I am forever grateful. Even if I haven’t, even if I can’t repair the hurt, the used or abandoned personally, I aim to fall on the ears of other young people struggling to break the cycle. Life is hard, and it can feel eternal and brutal when you do not feel inspired with purpose.

 I set out for life happily, but with life comes trials that test our strength, character and abilities. Some of us become weak and we buckle under it’s pressure, and no one should be blamed or made to feel inadequate for doing so whether it be temporarily or permanently. Sometimes as children we are given or dealt adult situations that make us shift in our nature. We lose sight of our strength, character and our abilities early on. We see an unrecognizable person staring back at us in the mirror, reacting to the world in a way we are ashamed of. But once you travel down this road, it is extremely difficult to get centered again. You begin fighting many elements and many odds. People are even more unforgiving, quick to judge and even thrive on having stories to tell about you when you’re down. That’s life and that’s the truth.

God forbid they lend a hand, an ear or their heart to hear your story of why you felt the need to turn to drinking and using. God forbid them knowing the forms of abuse that led to your self-hatred, never feeling beautiful, safe, or worthy of love. God forbid they know the anxiety that came, that follows being in a room full of people whom you know nothing about because we don’t really know anyone, do we? Not being able to trust others can make you come off as cold, standoffish and defensive – questioning the motives of all you encounter, men and women alike. God forbid others try and understand your reasoning for your take-no-shit attitude. Laughter was my medicine as a child, and at one time, I would do anything, even at the hands of others, to make people laugh. I couldn’t in any of those moments grasp the magnitude of my decisions. Often times I thought only about myself. I was selfish and absorbed with self-pity.
I was who I was for a multitude of reasons, and I am who I am at this moment for all of them. All of us are. That is the beauty I could never see. I had blinders on. I walked around with anger in my heart. I carried it with me always waiting to erupt. I always wanted to be the swan but I was wrecking all chances at attaining beauty. I put so much emphasis on trying to reach this ideal outward beauty; it was sickening. I had no idea what it meant to be beautiful. I didn’t see the gifts within myself rather a shell existing until it gave out. And I didn’t care if it did. Our physical appearance is just a portion of our creation. Growing up loathing our reflection can make us go to extreme lengths trying to reach this idea of perfection and acceptance. All I know is that I wasted too much effort and unhappiness living to want to be and look like someone other than myself.

I can assure you that self-esteem and bad choices go hand-in-hand because when you have none, you do not have much concern for your safety or well-being.

We are given one chance. We have it, we hold it, and we have the power to digest it our own way.

Whatever it is that you believe, no matter how complicated it can feel, you are strong enough to face your insecurities head on, to show yourself and the world what you’re made of. Everyone has their own battles they must face and fight. But it is okay to allow yourself to come together with people who are stronger than you. They too will be weak, and you too shall be strong. Some of us are born wearing our heart more on our sleeve, but life does a pretty bang up job without us having to join in. Don’t let anyone else’s baggage make you bitter. 

Everything that happens to us, happens for us. We get to choose our decisions in finding our purpose. Find yours. Hold onto it, never let go and never give up. Give yourself. Share your talents because you never know who’s life you could change or even save. It might just be your own.

Ashlei Humpert

{Soar high sweet cousin.}

• summer send off •

When I think about sending her off to (ahem) school, I think about….

💃🏻🍾🎉🎈

• moments of pure silence

• checking off my to do list faster than it accumulates

• getting to form sentences into paragraphs in person and on the phone without interruptions 

• running quick, even tedious errands without complaint of the obvious scorching burn associated with walking to and from the car, or any other repetitive commentary that can make my sanity shaky

But I’ll also be thinking about….

💕👧🏻🐵☀️

• how deafening the silence will actually become

• not having my little sidekick helping to remind me that life isn’t about the rush, but otherwise the contrary; it’s about all of the moments: each silly, stupid, messy, funny, sappy moment 

• how our conversations, when it’s just the two of us, hold such truth and wisdom far greater than that of any tainted adult

• an empty lap and letting certain facts begin to trickle in: I’m no longer her sole teacher, caretaker, the all-knowing, boo-boo kisser, rather I must share this confidently with other adults as well as herself as she strengthens her already hearty independence

• how much I will miss her and all that she is, even those strong outbursts of emotion, now disguised, but will too soon show their purpose in reflecting her as she grows and learns to harness that strong will, feisty passion, outspoken and unwavering magical spirit of hers

I too will be thinking about all that I want for her as her mom and as having been a teacher. All of those lessons that I have tried to teach and prepare her for, lessons that I feel unqualified and ill-equipped of providing her. 

I know all of the demands placed on teachers, the weight of those demands, and how feelings of impossibility can seep in. But those feelings aren’t exclusive to teachers. Teachers cannot be anymore of a miracle worker than a parent or parents can, as hard as we all try. But we both deserve to give ourselves and our precious little ones new beginnings each day. 

Promise me never to clip her wings, to be gentle with her sensitive heart, and to never look at her as a number or a test score, as I am giving you my greatest life’s work. I am, we are, giving you our baby. Because that is what we see when we look at her. 

And I promise to put my faith and trust in you, and to have your back because I stand as the leader and as a partner of the villagers raising my daughter. I will need your help, and I will try my very best to be open and honest in what you offer me, in what you offer us. 

Together we can create in her: chance, worth, purpose, direction, and vision.

For I want her to love without boundaries, with an open and truly kind heart, and to embrace diversity whilst not defining anyone by anything other than who they are, not by what they aren’t. 

“Kid, you’ll move mountains! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss 

“Every kid is one caring adult away from a success story.” – Unknown 

Ashlei Humpert

“Say how you feel, leave the job you hate, find your passion, love with every ounce of your bones, stand up for things that matter, don’t settle, don’t apologize for who you are… BE FUCKING BRAVE.” unknown (thank you Misty Johnston)

“The reason old souls enjoy spending time alone, is because they never really are.” unknown

“Our souls all share one great craving: to escape our limited selves, the narrowness and suffocating emptiness that can be present in our reality.” Don Mateo Sol

“In order to save myself I must destroy first the me I was told to be.” The dreamer

Things that led me here…that led me to leave and follow my ❤

     Although I’ve often fallen into pleasing and living for others, I too have always done things my own way. And more so the older I become, am I learning to push myself into shifting my thoughts, my thinking, my decision-making, in my own direction. Mine. I would call myself an open-minded person, but I can be momentarily and temporarily persuaded by another’s view, opinion, and/or feeling. I can get caught up in the moment, as I require some time to process information. I feel what others feel. This can become exhausting, especially with my insatiable need to over-analyze ALL situations. It hasn’t been until recent that my fed-up cup finally began to spill over and others’ actions and opinions began to flood my sense of control in my own decision-making, threatening to drown me. It became clear, evident to me that I deserved to live as I’ve been intended, to seek out and work mercilessly to reach my version of happiness. And I refuse to question my path to get here, to this epiphany. I cannot let myself go there, nor do I want to because I know with certainty that it too was paved with purpose. I look on it with gratitude knowing that all of it’s cracks, pebbles, pot holes as well as smooth surfaces taught me. I’ve learned to stand strong and firm against injustices and things that matter, even when that means going up against those I’ve considered friends, hell even family. I’ve been taught or rather reassured that I truly have a small circle of people who really love me and want me to be successful. We all do. A circle small yet full of integrity, honesty, wisdom, support, and encouragement. But I also know that I will and can stand and succeed alone when I need and want to.
     I’ve worked with women by the numbers and this has taught me the most. These experiences have guided and provoked my spirit as a woman and as a writer. For I have experienced, and become transparent at some level myself, being mean, hateful, discouraging, and not supportive. I’ve never been good at lying, nor have I wanted or felt obliged to. I’m honest and open, almost to a fault at times, and I’ve always felt this need to apologize for it. Oddly, I’ve not always received equal reciprocation. I cannot count the times I’ve let my heart and feelings be ripped to shreds by the demands of women who have held themselves at a level seemingly superior than that of my own. They  disappointed me and made me leery, wanting to question every woman I encounter.
     For those who do not know, I wasn’t all that interested in college right after school. I hated school. But I started anyway, and once I started college, I loved it. College was unlike any school experience I’d known, and I finally realized how much I loved to learn and that I was capable of doing something. I wasn’t quite sure what at the time, but this something was bigger than myself, bigger than the small world I felt confined to. Initially, I wanted to go into social work, but I was persuaded not to by just about everyone that caught wind of my intentions. Nursing came next. I was in the program, finished first round of courses and clinicals, and I knew; I could feel it. Nursing wasn’t for me. Business next, nope. Education, yes! I loved this field. I still do, but I could no longer ignore the burning desire to move forward, to leave. All of these experiences brought me to this exact destination, and they will carry me as far as I want to go.
     I’ve often heard and been personally spoken to about people ‘like me.’ “People who cannot stick to one thing.” “ People who give up too easily.” “People with their heads in the clouds.” “Free-spirited doesn’t pay the bills.” “A job is a job.” I could go on, as I have caught some slack, usually passive aggressively, for my choices in life.
      I’ve spent what feels like a lifetime over-analyzing such opinions, and other things I’ve been told by people I have trusted only to hear a different version being told to another person, defensive, rude, snide comments made when professing information/viewpoints passionately, sharing personal accomplishments, methods, goals, helpful suggestions, or even factual information.
     At times, I became bitter, but bitter wasn’t really my style. I wanted to know why. Why did I feel so unsupported, mostly by women, but by men too? Why did some of the people I grew up with, work with, or the people I love seem disconnected from me? I’ve always tried so hard to be genuine. For so long, I felt it to be because of my past. I chose a different path than them. Shit. I made my own, and I mean that in the worst possible way. My path was more like a mud hole, and I was wearing skis. I was reckless because I didn’t have faith in myself. I felt unworthy, and I lacked the courage to try to be anything other than what I felt like they saw me to be. I was sinking, and who would want to join a sinking ship? I made tremendous messes of my life and my relationships, but I have made apologizes with change. They were not empty. You would think getting your life together would bring a sense of peace in all aspects of your life. But to be honest, the clearer your mind, the more you can see through the BS in others and in yourself. A blessing and a curse really. However, I will take clarity and all of it’s beauty as well as it’s grit any day over the murky unknown.
     I have been honest. I have been weak, and I have beat myself up over sharing personal experiences about my life and health. But I have been desperate, and I have been scared. I’ve wanted advice, answers, comfort, and I’ve wanted and want to help others. I feel called to share my experiences for many reasons, including healing. I’ve just never understood why and how I could, how I can, push people away. I’ve never felt well-received. And as conflicting as it sounds, as lonely as it can get, I most often enjoy being alone and don’t really mind being ‘anti-social.’ So, instead of this continuous cycle of speculation, (maybe paranoia), I researched. I researched myself. I’ve always known my personality type, and if you do not know yours, I highly suggest finding it out. I have the rarest of the personality types. Initially ‘rare’ sounds unique, mysterious, and powerful, but in reality, it can be lonely. “My heart is a lonely hunter.” Carson McCullers
     Dr. A.J. Drenth writes, “Because of their keen perceptiveness, INFJs are rarely fooled by facades or fakery. They can readily see beyond appearances and apprehend an individual’s deeper motives and intentions, including any underlying ego issues. In fact, INFJs can often see the truth about people more clearly than those people can see it in themselves. It is no wonder that many INFJs can make a decent living by hanging a “Psychic” sign on their front door.”
     I have always felt intuitive. I have always felt instant feedback from people, either being truly gratifying or lacking any connection whatsoever. Learning more about this has helped me, but it has also saddened me that my feelings may be more accurate and not just a figment of my imagination. I’ve felt these feelings so deep in my gut at times that they have altered my sense of goodness in this world.
     Thus has led me down this path….to write. I left my job to fulfill a greater calling that I can no longer ignore or push to the side. I am a writer. I can confidently say that now without needing anyone else to validate that for me. I was tired of giving in, tired of letting my temporary feelings be swayed. I was scared shitless to take this leap, but I felt like a hypocrite talking about making changes to be a happier, more fulfilled person. I had to search deep within, raise my voice to the inner voice who was practically screaming all of the what if’s, and I had to reach out to those who truly were/are in support of me. I still sit here admittedly talking a big game about not letting other people get to me, but to be honest they do. When people are mean, when they lie, or are not supportive – all whether intentional or unintentional – their actions get to me. But what I have found in working on myself and researching about myself and others is that we were all made with unique talents. Yes those talents set us apart, but what truly defines us is how we put them into motion for the good of others. I feel that I was meant to write and share with others. You may disagree with me in that, and that is ok. But, I want you to think about this. What do you feel you were given to share with the world? Is this your passion?

How would you feel being:

told no!

laughed at.

told that these feelings, these dreams, these goals that you’ve held onto since childhood, hidden away, are just a waste of time and unrealistic.

told I do not support you.

asked if you are serious, why you want to, and how you think YOU could?

Think about this. Don’t be this person to others or to yourself.

No one else can devalue our dreams, make fun of them, question them, try to make us feel inadequate in any way unless we let them. And I have let them for long enough. What about you?

Ashlei Humpert