Name's Not Ashley Turns 100

DSC_5082

100 posts, that is.

DSC_7372

Want to hear something crazy?

DSC_7924

I originally didn't want to tell anyone about this blog until I had written 100 posts. ONE HUNDRED. Looking back, I'm glad I caved in and told my friends and family about it around 30 or so posts. As it turns out, the way this blog has put me back in contact with people from so many phases of my life has been the best part of it all.

DSC_9324

This blog was not my idea, it was my husband's. Last fall, I found myself spending my nights reading other people's blogs and watching way too many reruns on TV. I had nothing in particular to fill my nights, and I hated that. I'm usually a schedule-myself-up-to-my-ears kind of person, and I started feeling like I wasn't doing anything with my life. So, my husband, patiently listening to my fears about time going by, said I should take the plunge and write a blog on my own. It took a few weeks of teasing/convincing me to do it, but I eventually came around.IMG_1142

I was so scared to put this blog out there. I was scared (and am still scared) about being judged from two different directions. I was afraid that my friends and acquaintances from the first 18 years of my life would think that I was doing a really bad imitation of being stylish, confident, and cool, because when I was growing up I was not stylish, confident, or cool. And I was afraid that my friends and acquaintances from Rice would think that I was unintellectual, the blonde cheerleader who cared about clothes and appearances more than she cared about current events and literature. I was afraid that posting photos of what I was wearing would engender laughs from those I knew in my early life, because I was making it look like I thought I was something I was not; and frowns from the people I knew in college, because I was proving to be exactly who they always suspected me to be.

DSC_0188

I do not take criticism or judgment well. I can remember every time that someone has insulted me, everyone that hasn't liked me, and every single time that I've lost at something, whether it has been by 100 yards or one, single vote. I struggled with the thought of putting my life, my creativity, my opinions online where they could be judged freely and abundantly by others. A month or so ago, some girl commented on this blog saying that I clearly derived all of my self-worth from how expensive my clothes were, and suggested that I was not only shallow, but naive and stupid as well. Clearly, since I'm writing about it over a month later, I still think about it. But at least she said it where I could see it. In the day to day, I find myself worrying about all the judgments people are making in the silence of their own brains, and it freaks. me. out.DSC_9790

But in due time, I realized that all of these fears were the exactly why I should write this blog. I've spent so much of my life being afraid to contradict the image of me that those around me perceive, so much so that that perceived image to a large extent has dictated who I am, instead of the other way around. When I moved to San Francisco, I discovered with great joy that I had the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be. No one knew me here other than my husband, who knew who I truly was, so why not just act like me? I started approaching every day like that, and I found that creating my own image led to an incredible amount of happiness (and having a loving husband around who tells you every day how much he loves you and how beautiful you are doesn't hurt, either).

DSC_5908About a year after I moved here, I resolved to start dressing stylishly. For those of you who haven't lived here, I find it hard to describe how fashionably almost everyone here dresses. Don't get me wrong - there are plenty of fashionable and cute girls in Texas. But here in San Francisco they take it to a whole new level. Maybe it's the cooler temperatures, maybe it's the more relaxed work dress codes, but for the entire first year I lived here I would ride the bus to work and marvel at how accessorized, put together, and stylish the other girls on my bus were. But then I would think, "I'm not a stylish person!" and decide that that couldn't be me and try to content myself with my button-down banker shirts and dress slacks. Finally, one day, something just clicked - if I wanted to be stylish, I could be stylish. So, because it doesn't come naturally to me, I started reading blogs and paying closer attention to the girls around me. I bought some jewelry (the absolute best first step towards making it look like you have an "outfit" on, rather than just a shirt and pants) and invested in some good blouses. And before I knew it, I was wearing clothes that made me feel that when people looked at me, they were seeing who I was. And I wanted to share that feeling with others, encourage others to pursue it themselves.

DSC_0431

However, I've always been much more into making sure that I derive happiness from the body that resides under my clothes than I've been interested in the clothes themselves. I don't think you can get a life-changing amount of happiness from dressing well, but I do think you can get a life-changing amount of happiness from treating your body in a healthy way. And I truly, deeply, passionately believe that women need to lift weights in order to treat their bodies right. But I think we do a horrible job at teaching women to lift weights when they're young, so spreading the "you should lift weights!" message has to go hand-in-hand with education on how to weight train properly. And I hope that I've been helpful in that right. I absolutely love writing about fitness on here, and I love that for some of you it's your favorite thing too, and that for others of you it's like your mom pureeing vegetables and hiding them in your dinner because you wouldn't willingly consume it otherwise. Whichever way you come to my workout posts, I'm happy to have you. And I'm excited to start putting together full workouts for you guys beginning next week - stay tuned!DSC_6305

And lastly, food, weekends, books, and all the other random things you'll find on this blog on any given day - I just don't believe it's possible to live a happy life on a steady diet of fashion, fitness, and carrot sticks. The real happiness in my life comes from spending my weekends in this beautiful city, eating amazing food, reading intelligent books, and just being the healthy, well-fed, well-read, well-dressed, well-rounded person that I am constantly aiming to be. I hope what I've shared on here provides just the smallest amount of help in pursuing that in your own life, or at least a smile when you see me pursuing it in mine.IMG_0825

Finally, I have a few thank yous that I would be absolutely remiss not to give out. First, to my husband, for being the originator of the idea of this blog, my professional photographer, my constant cheerleader, and the person who does dishes while I write blog posts, I appreciate you SO MUCH and love you totally and completely. To my publicists, Mom, Hannah, and sometimes Sam and Anjelica, I love all of you for wanting to share what I write here with the rest of the world. And lastly, to every single one of you who reads this every day or every once in awhile, and to everyone who has sent me a message or told me thus far that you like what I'm doing here - I know I've said this to each and every one of you, but it means the world to me to hear such positive messages from you, and it makes writing these posts every day seem so worth it. Thank you thank you thank you, and here's to hundreds more!DSC_4487

DSC_4962

DSC_5182_2

J. Crew plaid shirt, J. Crew puffer vest, J. Crew leggings, Unknown scarf (similar), J. Crew rainboots (similar)

DSC_0126

DSC_8021