That’s Not Me

Two days ago, I was riding on a bus in downtown Indianapolis, and a woman a few seats away leaned toward me and asked, “Are you a model?”

I laughed in her face.

And then I realized how incredibly rude that was.

“I’m sorry. No, I’m not.”

“Oh,” She said. “Well, you could be.”

I paused a quick second, trying to regain my Ps and Qs. “Thank you, that’s very nice of you.”

See, here’s the problem. I genuinely think the idea of me being a model is hilarious. And it’s not because I’m insecure or think I’m ugly. I’m not ugly. I mean, I’m no Gal Gadot, but let’s be honest, if there were two of her the universe would probably implode, so that’s for the best. I clean up well, and I can make an empire-waisted evening dress look like it was made for me. I’m pretty cute.

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But the very image of me modeling, putting in the effort to look poster-worthy for my job, every single day, is laughable.

Let me give you an example.

Adult acne is my nemesis. Seriously, I’ve had acne since I was 12, and it really hasn’t gotten much better – it’s just moved down from my forehead and sort of spread down my neck like it’s getting tired and letting gravity slowly win. About every two months or so, I look in the mirror at the mountain range that is my skin and I get incredibly annoyed. It’s wildly unfair, really. Teenage acne is one thing – they’re awkward and funny-looking anyway. But as an adult? It’s really just salt in the wound that is an aging body.

But here’s the catch: I hardly ever care enough to do something about it. Every once in a while I get so annoyed that I talk to a doctor or buy a different soap or stop washing my face in the shower. But then after about two days,  I just can’t be bothered to put in the effort. I have too much to do, and I value my downtime more than my skincare regimen. So my acne continues.

And I now have confirmation that it is truly a matter of values:

IMG_2725.JPGMy team and I have been working on a short film, and I am the main character. Knowing that we were going to be filming this week, and that my face would be displayed on HD screens, and that the character I was playing might actually put in the effort to deal with her acne, I forced myself to actually take care of my skin for two whole weeks. And damn if it doesn’t look good.

But last night when I got home from the last day of filming, I washed my face in the shower and couldn’t be bothered to do a single other thing to my skin before crawling into bed.

It’s no longer a priority. Sleep is more valuable.

And honestly, at thirty years old, it’s good for me to just acknowledge this: I could look better, but I’m just not going to, because other things are more important to me. That acknowledgment keeps the comparison and insecurity monsters at bay, because I can recognize that where I differ from others is almost always a choice. I could be thinner, but then I wouldn’t be able to eat ice cream with my friends while we watch terrible movies. I could drive a nicer car, but I wouldn’t be able to afford to do CrossFit, which I love.

The options are out there, and I am choosing what I want. I am so okay with not being a model, and it has nothing to do with feeling insecure. It’s just not me. There is great freedom in just admitting that a certain thing is never going to be true of you. Like having a clean house, or getting that motorcycle. Those things will happen if you choose to value them, but that’s just unrealistic, why don’t you come on over here with me? We might have messy houses and adult acne, but we have ice cream and no regrets.

What are you not choosing to value in life that you can just acknowledge and move on from?


Here’s to Functioning

I was sitting at my kitchen table on Wednesday, catching up on annoying little life things. It’s been a while since I used my pill sorter, which has meant that I’ve missed my medication a few times in recent weeks. It was time to get back into the habit of using it, because it’s not just senior citizens that can’t remember what they took and when.

I went upstairs, grabbed my pill sorter and gathered the bottles, brought them back down, and sat back at the table. And I stared at those bottles. IMG_5208

I couldn’t believe how many there were.

I still can’t believe how much it takes to keep me functioning as a human.

I have no shame in this.

(In fact, I’m pretty damn proud of myself for the hours of therapy and doctor’s offices and hundreds of dollars I have put in to figure out how to function. I want to be healthy, and I’m doing what it takes to be healthy. If you’re in this boat too, there ain’t no shame on you and me. We’re fighting for our lives, and using the weapons that we have available so we can keep fighting. That’s a good thing.) [Steps off soapbox.]

It does feel surreal, though. How could I possibly need this much help to function?

Then KJ pointed out to me that, realistically, other people have to do this much and more to function. It could just be different from what I have to do.

It could be not eating gluten. It could be stretching out an old wound every day. It could be going to AA meetings. It could be checking your blood sugar. It could be meditation.

Whatever it is, however much you have to invest every single day in order to be the healthiest version of you that is possible, there is no shame in that. In fact, be proud. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of us.


Here’s to functioning as a human every day, and the things we do to be healthy.



I’d love to hear about something you do regularly to help you function.

Frog Hunting – Episode 2

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Note from the author: This is a follow-up to the post “Frog Hunting,” which you may want to read first.


After six months of unsuccessful attempts to meet men online, I canceled my online dating account.

Then, after eight months of unsuccessful attempts to meet men in person, I joined a new dating app.

And it’s been chaos ever since. In fact, I had to put a hold on my account because I was talking to too many men at once. Believe me, that is a sentence I never thought I’d say. Last month, there was a moment when I was actively trying to schedule four dates at once. I submit this as proof that not only is there a God, but he has a spectacular sense of humor. (I also submit those monkeys with the crazy noses, because COME ON.)

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I’ve only gone on five dates so far, and all of them have had some special moments, as most first dates do.

But there’s really only one that I need to tell you about. And it’s a bit of a long story, but that’s necessary for you to get the full effect. So bear with me.


I met this gentleman (we’ll call him Gary) for a beer at a local brewery. ThinkstockPhotos-517501476

(For the record, the beer was excellent. I would always recommend going somewhere you like on a first date because then even if the date is terrible, you at least get to enjoy some aspect of it.)

Gary is a good-looking man, and his dating profile is full of photos from his military days, which adds a level of attractiveness that I’ve never actually understood. Talk to the Bennet sisters or Debra Winger if you need further clarification on that point.

Anyway. We shook hands, sat at the bar, and started chatting. He seemed nice, genuinely interested in what I had to say, and like a financially viable adult, which at my age is 80% of what makes a guy worth dating. I had already learned from our online conversation that Gary was new to Indy, that we had some hobbies in common, and that he worked for a popular mattress company.

What I soon learned in person as we talked about sports and local restaurants was that his job perfectly described his personality: a snore.

Trying to see if the soporific quality of his conversation was due to the topics at hand, I asked him, “So, Gary. Are you a church-going man?”

He smiled. “No, not really. But I’m very religious.”

He said something after this about growing up in the Methodist church, but I was so busy trying to figure out how you could claim Christianity as your faith, be religious, and still not go to church, that I totally missed what he was saying. I tuned back in when he said, “But actually, I’ve started a new project lately!”

Anticipating some clarification on his spiritual situation, I said, “Oh?”

“Yes! I just purchased a snorkel mask and wet suit in order to snorkel the White River to find snails. I’m planning on starting my own snail farm! I’m a big escargot person. Do you like escargot?”

You guys. He was so excited about this. It was the first inkling of emotion he’d shown in half an hour. (But can we also point out the inherit hilarity of saying you’re a “big escargot person?”)

“I…I guess I’ve never tried it,” I said, as my brain struggled to discover the line between the Methodist church and the culinary delicacies of the White River.

He smiled a genuine smile. “You have to try it! I usually get my escargot from Walmart.”

Struggling to keep up, I tried to match his humor. “Oh! You know, one time I was in Walgreens and they were selling sushi. I could not figure out who would buy sushi from Walgreens in Indiana!”

He shook his head. “Yeah, that’s weird. But the Walmart escargot is really very good.”

He was serious.

“Oh.” I said. It occurred to me that I’d been saying this a lot. I didn’t seem to be successfully participating in this conversation. I tried to engage.

“And…the snails in the White River are…escargot material?”

ThinkstockPhotos-178580834“Definitely!” he said, and launched into an explanation of the origin of said snails. I admit, I didn’t fully follow, because his voice is incredibly monotone and I am not a robot, but I gathered that at some point a group of famous Chinese snails ended up in Lake Michigan (“They must have been really lost,” my friend Emily said when I told her this) and traveled down the White River into Indiana.

You guys, the White River is not glamorous. It’s sort of like the Hudson. Necessary for the economy, nice to have, but I’d never get in it. I don’t care if those snails had Scottish accents and looked like Matthew McConnaughy, they can stay in the White River as far as I’m concerned. (By the way, Matthew’s been looking sort of weird lately. Maybe I need a new “hot man” to reference. Let me know if you have suggestions.)

Anyway. Feeling way out of my depth (pun intended), I decided to change the subject. I asked him about his cat, which I’d seen a picture of on his profile.

I kid you not, people: Gary spent the next 15-20 minutes filling me in on the diseases and other physical issues that his cat has had over the last few years. Once he started talking about how he spent a year picking scabs off this poor cat every night, I finally pulled out my phone to check the time.

“Well, I should probably get going. Thank you for the beer!”

We parted ways without talk of another meeting, and when he texted me the next day to schedule a date, I politely declined.

See, the thing is, I do some weird things. Last weekend I spent approximately 20 hours learning how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. But I am not under the impression that this hobby makes me more desirable toward men. Snail farming, while…unique…is not a chick magnet. Perhaps I should have explained this to him at the time, but I was too busy not gagging on my beer during the flea and tick conversation.


Moral of the story? I don’t actually know. Why don’t you tell me?

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Fear Factors

Oh, hey! Haven’t seen you in a while. How’ve you been?

I purposely did not post for the month of March because I was out and about, running communication stuff for a large conference, and trying to do any extra writing would have likely resulted in spontaneous human combustion.

Then, when I returned, I fully intended to start again. But I got scared.


Two fear factors:

  1. Once I stop something hard for a while, it gets incredibly difficult to start again. What if it’s too hard? What if I’m not good at it? What if it hurts? That’s true of most things – working out, playing music, being honest. The gap between my last victory and today grows too large for my memory to throw me across.
  2. I’ve experienced some weighty relational tensions in the last two months, and I feel too vulnerable to bear my soul to the public. What if people who are upset with me read it and think it’s about them? What if it is about them? As an introvert and a people pleaser, my worst-case-scenario involves me being honest, someone misunderstanding my honesty, and said person becoming upset because of the misunderstanding. (This falls right after the scenario in which I am late for an important social event and get kidnapped by giant spiders.)

So, now what? You know why I’m afraid to write. What do you think I should do?

Yeah, I was afraid you’d say that. ThinkstockPhotos-638654162



Here I am, starting again.

As a reward for coaching me through my fear, next week I’ll update you on my dating life. (Teaser: there are snails involved.)

If there’s something you are dreading or putting off this week, join me in doing it anyway.

Good Enough


It seems that someone (who I suspect shares a large portion of my DNA) recently reminded my grandmother that I have a blog.

I say “reminded” because she definitely knew at one point, but apparently she forgot and stopped reading. I know someone reminded her because she’s been in the hospital, and when I called her to check on her earlier this week, she said, “I just heard that you are writing and when I get out of here I’m going to go home and read all about you on the internet!”

My first thought was, “Dammit, Jan!” which is a phrase we use in our house that basically means, “I can’t believe I got myself into this mess and now I have to deal with it,” and actually has nothing to do with a wonderful woman we all know in real life whose name is Jan. Just trust me when I tell you that’s the short explanation.

All that to say, I felt slightly uncertain of what to do, because my blog isn’t really grandmother appropriate. I mean, it certainly could be worse. I could be blogging about my side job on the stripper pole. I’m not. I’m writing about my life.

thinkstockphotos-606675604And although my expensive college education didn’t teach me helpful things like how to change my car oil, I did learn that you can write about anything, and get away with any language or uncomfortable topics, if you are good enough.

But, of course, that means you have to be good enough.

And so, since I am an anxiety-prone individual, my immediate concern of my grandma-appropriateness quickly spiraled outward to the worthiness of the whole enterprise of me blogging. Is this okay? Am I okay? Am I doing something worthwhile? Am I doing a good job?

This week I went to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and her young daughter put on a comedy show for me. It was as awesome as it sounds. (Why do golfers wear two pairs of pants? … In case they get a hole in one!) After the show, my friend said to her daughter, “I think maybe I should send you to theater camp next summer.”

The little girl smiled quickly, but then in the space of a second her face changed to uncertainty. “Do you think I’d be good enough?” she asked her mother.

Oh man. We learn so young to question ourselves. To doubt that we can measure up. To say, “Should I even do this if I can’t do a good job?”

I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth coming back to.

You don’t have to be good enough. You just have to do it. You just have to start. To try. To step forward. No matter who is in the audience, and no matter what you think they may think.

Don’t let the people watching decide what you’re “good enough” to do. 

I will continue my grandma-inappropriate blog. Because “good enough” does not control me.

Disordered Thinking



You see, I’d like to think I know myself pretty well. I majored in psychology, so I know how humans work, and I have a basic knowledge of mental health. I’ve taken many online personality tests, and I invest a lot of money to learn more about myself and then process what I learn. At this point, I’m rarely surprised by something I learn about myself.

So when I was sitting in my counselor’s office, complaining, I wasn’t expecting to be surprised. I was talking about how I’m incredibly, almost unbearably, tired despite the fact that I’m doing everything right. I’m not eating sugar, I’m exercising, I’m taking lots of emotional and mental space, and I’m saying no to things that will cost more than I have to give.

My counselor nodded as my whining spun down to a stop.

“Well, Ashleyne,” she said casually, crossing one leg over the other, “since you have Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder, it makes sense that…”

I have no idea what she said after that.

See, for almost two years now, I’ve been telling everyone and their pet gerbil that I’m depressed. I took the whole “speak the truth and the truth will set you free” thing to heart. I know I’m depressed. But in this whole process, no one (not my doctor, not either of my counselors, not my psychiatrist, not my masters-degree-holding roommates, not my stuffed orangutan) has said the word “Disorder” out loud while looking at me.


Longterm, it doesn’t really change anything. I’m not ashamed, or afraid, and I don’t think I’m crazy. I will continue to deal with my depression the same ways I have been.

But it did surprise me. This is a thing. I have a disorder. It’s not just that I don’t know how to handle my shit, which is what I’ve been thinking for quite a while now.

There’s actually something broken. Out of order. Misplaced. A recurring problem that doesn’t have a simple solution. And it has a name.

I tuned back in as my counselor said, “…which tells us that it really is a chemical problem and we can work with that.”

Huh. Okay. We can work with that.

I have a label. Alright. I can work with that.

So it’s still true: Speak the truth, for the truth can set you free.

I know myself a little better now. Serves me right for thinking I was done learning.

The Inner Dialogue


My Logical Self: Seriously? Calm down. You haven’t written about your depression medication yet, and it was on your list of potential topics. Just do that.

E: Oh. That’s a good idea. But I don’t really want to.

L: Why not? There’s nothing of which to be ashamed.

E: Who talks like that?

L: Not this again.

E: I’m not ashamed. I’m bored.

L: Only moments ago, I thought you were going to pull out your proverbial hair. I am offering you a viable solution, and you find it boring?

E: Well, yeah. Because drugs are just drugs. It’s like ice cream. Some people like vanilla, some people like caramel pecan crunch supreme. Some people like that SoyDream crap; some people have to eat that because they can’t eat the real stuff. You just have to try different ice cream and see what works for you and if it makes you sick.

L: What a delightful analogy. However, I would like to point out that you’ve already had three conversations this week alone concerning ice cream. So something must still be worth talking about.

E: Of course it is. It’s relatable. Ice cream is relatable. Everyone’s tried it, everyone has an opinion on it, and most of us love it. So why wouldn’t we talk about it?

L: Even though you will not change anyone’s opinion by talking about it.

E: Sure. But I might suggest a brand they’ve never tried, or a flavor…oh. I see where you’re going with this.

L: You have an astonishing intellect.

E: Shut up! I’m very mature! Leave me alone.

L: …

E: I still don’t know what to write. It’s hopeless. I should just take the site down.

L: Sigh. Perhaps communicate your experiences with medication and how you have found it helpful, and what areas others might expect to encounter difficulties?

E: Like how I had to try three different medications before I found one that made me feel consistently better instead of worse?

L: Yes. Like that.

E: And how I’ve now moved to a third dosage of my current medication in order to balance out my mood swings and energy depletion? But I’m still solidly depressed for a day about every 5 weeks. And that may never change. And I don’t love that I’m pumping drugs into my body every day, and maybe will be for the rest of my life. That’s depressing enough on its own. So I try not to think about it. I just focus on dealing with my emotions and my energy level and let my doctors think about the drug stuff. And I still hope that maybe I’ll figure out how to manage all this stuff on my own without the drugs.

L: But also, if you don’t, it’s not your fault.

E: Yeah. I forget that sometimes.

L: Don’t worry. I’ll be here to remind you.

E: Oh, goodie. Did I forget anything else?

L: No, I think you summarized quite well.

E: And you are quite annoying.

L: Thank you.

E: I guess I can write a blog post after all. Maybe I don’t need these brownies.

L: Perhaps you could start with some vegetables, and save the brownies for after lunch.

E: Fine.