This is Getting Personal

Some people might cringe to hear that things are about to get personal. Others may be intrigued. I am getting personal this week, because my business is me and I am my business. I want you to know who I am and why I am motivated and inspired to be doing the things I am doing today.

2016 was a year of contradictory emotions for me. I had some highs and I had some major lows. 2016 was a year of being open. For the first time in my life I opened my intuitive mind (instead of stifling it with my logical mind) and allowed myself to receive the messages that were coming to me. Whether you’re a believer in a singular almighty or the Universe – you’ll know what I mean. I opened myself up to truly listen for the very first time. And, boy, has it changed my life.

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My daughter at a local festival in Virginia. Virginia is for Lovers. 

Two weeks ago I went to a conference that I had been looking forward to all year long, the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneur’s (GIFTE) Book More Travel Workshop (BMTW) in Charlotte, NC. You may be surprised to hear the real reason I look forward to this conference is not about the business strategy nuggets I can learn which are valuable, for sure, but for the time devoted to emotional fitness and mindset.

I saw the founder, Meredith Hill speak at a couple of conferences I had attended while working for Carnival Corporation and was instantly taken by her message and charisma. She is a firm believer in the idea of manifesting, affirming, and projecting the abundant life you want to live. When I first saw her speak, I really needed to hear this message. I was in a tough place.

I have been dealing with depression since I returned from Afghanistan in 2007. No, I don’t have PTSD, but going to Afghanistan really changed me. (This is a whole other story.) This combined with some difficult things that happened, which are just “life” things that happen, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs.

At the time I saw Meredith speak about how “things don’t happen to you; they happen for you”. I was reeling from the Army’s decision to not move us to Colorado so we could be closer to family, but to move us to Virginia. It may sound trivial, but having my first child on the opposite side of the country from family and living in a somewhat isolated neighborhood in the suburbs of Miami was really hard for me. Once a person starts to experience depression, they can’t necessarily just will themselves out of it. It is like a cloud that just stays on top of you, regardless of rationalizing how great you really do have life and how grateful you should be.

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My daughter and I enjoying popcorn at a brewery in Helena, MT last spring. One of the things I do when I’m feeling down is go home to Montana. 

So here’s problem #1 – we’re moving. And, frankly, we move every 2-3 years with my husband’s career. I needed to figure out how to have a career of my own that I could bring with me every time we uproot our lives and start over. Meredith’s message started to resonate with me. “Don’t live your life based on the conditions around you, live your life despite the conditions around you.” Not only that, she had a practical answer for me. She represented and founded two organizations that work with travel entrepreneurs. I started to think… “I could start a travel business. Of course!”

Fast forward a bit…I’ve made the commitment. My 2016 New Years Resolution was to start my own business. I started working with Meredith’s organizations, GIFTE and the Gifted Travel Network (GTN) to slowly launch my business and be in a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that really help and support each other despite the fact we are all in the same industry and theoretically marketing to the same clients. You know why it works? These people live with an abundance mindset, not a scarcity mindset.

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Zora and her Aunt Allison enjoying our new neighborhood swing set in Virginia.

Fast forward a bit again…I’m doing really well emotionally, physically, and mentally. We have moved to our new home in Virginia, met our awesome neighbors, and actually like our new life. I am two weeks away from officially launching my business, Kinship Vacations. And just like it always seems to happen….just when things are going great, something bad happens.

After two weeks of intense pain and bleeding, I found out I was pregnant while at the ER. My husband and I were trying to have another child, so it was welcomed news, but I knew in my heart something was very wrong. An ultrasound couldn’t locate an embryo so the possibilities were that I had a miscarriage or I had an ectopic pregnancy. I was told to go home and come back in a week for another pregnancy test and ultrasound to see what was going on.

I didn’t last more than three days before I was crouching down one night in intense pain and crying. My husband called the nurse line and decided we needed to go to the ER. (I didn’t want to go and wait 6 hours again to be told to go home.) Thank God for our Army family, we left our sleeping daughter at home while a neighbor came over and watched her.

The ER was a bit quicker this time, but after two hours they wanted me to get up and take another pregnancy test followed by another ultrasound. I got into the wheelchair to go to the ultrasound room and started feeling faint. I could feel the light closing in and around me. I told the ultrasound tech and she brought me back to my room. While the nurses were telling me to breath and tell them what I was seeing, I was trying to do what they said, but it was so hard. I got very clammy and sure enough, my blood pressure had dropped.

Thank God I almost passed out because the nurses and doctors seemed to finally take my pain seriously. (I’m actually pretty tough and stoic when it comes to serious pain). After doing an ultrasound they discovered there was a lot of internal bleeding and a mass looked to have ruptured. They summoned the OB/GYN and she determined I needed immediate surgery and it was in fact an ectopic pregnancy.

Things moved pretty quickly at this point. I have never had surgery so I was scared and had been reading about ectopic pregnancies and how they are one of the few things that still kill women in pregnancy. I was not ready to die. I was not ready to leave my daughter or my husband. I just kept praying to God in my head that I would survive. I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes and as he held my hand, he assured me that I would be ok.

After the laparoscopic surgery, I learned that my left fallopian tube had burst and there was more than 30 ml of internal bleeding. They ended up taking out my left fallopian tube. The rupture was most likely a slow leak, which explains my intense pain during the weeks prior. I had been bleeding internally for days. It was good that we finally went into surgery when we did, because it could’ve been fatal for me.

 

Full stop. I could have died.

 

Thank God for modern medicine. Thank God I lived. Thank God for so many things… This experience has made me more acutely aware of the blessings in my life and how not a minute in life should be wasted.

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Me laying in bed after my surgery. 

Problem #2….I struggled in the couple weeks following my surgery. I had to recover in bed. I still had pain and bleeding. I had 7 incisions in my abdomen to heal. I started feeling myself slipping into the deep dark hole of depression that I have been in before. Plus, I had so much anxiety about the deadline I gave myself to start my business.

Finally I sought the help of a counselor and after talking a lot with her, increasing my dosage of Lexapro (from a half dose to a full), I started to come out of the dark side. I reopened my intuition to receiving the positive messages all around me, to accept that despite the heartache of losing a baby and almost losing my life, something good came of this terrible experience. I appreciate my daughter so much more. We still want to have another child, if we can. Because of this ugly contrast we all went through, I fully know my daughter, Zora is enough if we can’t have more children. She is amazing and an overflow of blessings for me to have in my life.

While, recovery set me back about 10 days, I still launched my business. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the resiliency I’ve built over the years after experiencing hard times. Things can knock us down, but we can get back up. If you’ve never been knocked down, you may not know that. Also, the community I had finally become a part of in GIFTE, GTN, and my new Fort Eustis Army family helped me as well. If there is another huge lesson I learned in 2016, it’s that no one can do life alone.

So, lets return to the beginning of my story. I was at the BMTW Conference two weeks ago. Meredith Hill was teaching us about emotional fitness and shared a heartbreaking story of her own to us. I was inspired to share my story with the group as well, because the idea of emotional fitness really does work. If we all talked about it more and shared our struggles, we might lose less people to suicide and drug overdoses. As a veteran, military spouse, and a person with a family history of depression and suicide, these topics are very important to me. I will take the public embarrassment of sharing my story if it helps just one person out there know that they are not alone and they can get help.

 

Finally, how does this relate to Kinship Vacations or the Peregrine Kinship Travel Blog? In so many ways… First, I am Kinship Vacations. I am the Peregrine Kinship Travel Blog. When I work with my clients, I come from a place of brokenness, joy, love, gratitude, and passion all at once. I have learned through this battle that I am an empath; therefore, I can feel other’s feelings. Also, the hard times in my life have shown me to not waste a minute.

 

Don’t hesitate to take that trip with your husband that you need to reconnect with each other.

Don’t wait to vacation with your kids until they are older.

Don’t put off getting together with your old friends in a reunion.

 

Time is the most valuable resource we have, because it truly is non-renewable. Life is too short to work in a job you hate, pay attention to the haters, and spend most of your time away from the people and activities you truly love. This is where it all starts with me. I want to make these life changing travel experiences happen for you. I want you to feel the same joy I feel when I see my daughter’s eyes light up in the embrace of Minnie Mouse, or when I get to share an amazing uninterrupted meal and sleep with my husband in a beautiful hotel, or when I get to see old friends and share memories. Travel is therapy. I am here to be your travel therapist.

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Trick-or-treating with my daughter less than two weeks after my surgery. 

Happy Wanderlusting!

Ashley

 

P.S. If you’re tired of waiting to make your travel dreams come true, start by filling out our trip planning form and we’ll work together to create a trip that will bring you and your loved ones together in an unforgettable way.

 

P.P.S. To keep receiving travel tips and inspiration and a FREE GUIDE, “10 Ways to Strengthen Relationships Through Travel” CLICK HERE

 

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Kara says:

    Thank you for being so human, Ashley. We all struggle but it takes a brave person to be so open. We also need each other. You have awed and humbled me from day one, almost 33 years ago. Life is for joy and love and you are right about abundance and gratitude. I am so grateful for you and all that you are.

    Lets plan our trip to Scotland or Ireland soon. Love you!

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    1. Aw! Thanks, Mom! I am totally down for that trip to Scotland and Ireland. You have been a source of strength and inspiration for me all these almost-33 years. Love you too.

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  2. Beautiful, heartfelt words, from a very brave women. Thanks for letting your light shine, Ashley! You’ll look back when you’re older like me and as hard as that was to go through, it’s your journey and you’re the only one that knows how to do it right. Blessings on your family and Kinship Vacations. Peace ❤

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    1. Thats so very kind of you, Celeste. I completely agree with you. ❤

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  3. Irwin Shires says:

    Ashley, I should’ve known better than to read this at my J O B!! I’m about 3 Kleenexes short. LOL Anyway, your story is so honest, and compelling, and your honest and bravery are to be applauded! Your future in this wonderful business of ours is infinite! There is no doubt in my mind that you will be a STAR in our industry! I wish you nothing but success and good fortune! (And if you do Ireland and Scotland, make sure you spend a day or two at Oban. Tour the Scotch distilleries, or take the ferry to the Island of Mull and visit Tobermory. You’ll absolutely love it!)

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    1. Hi Irwin! LOL! Yeah, I should’ve warned you better. But, thank you so much for the kind words. I am sure the same will come for you. I want to take one (or several) of your beer trips with my hubby! Thanks for the recommendations for Scotland. We will most certainly go to the distilleries as my husband is really into whisky! I am still acquiring the taste. 😉

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      1. Irwin Shires says:

        I get it…Scotch is not at the top of my list of favorite adult beverages (I’m pretty sure you know which one is! LOL) but there are a couple I enjoy. Glenmorangie 12 year is very smooth, and many people still swear by Glenlivet as the definitive Scotch.

        Liked by 1 person

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