Welcome to the World, Dominick. Take Notes.

On May 25th, 2014, one of my best friends, Kristen, gave birth to her first child! She is not the first of my friends to have a baby, but she is the first of my best friends to have a baby and be living in the same city as me, so this is a big deal. Kristen, her husband Trai, and both their parents labored for an entire weekend before Baby D burst into this world with plans to do some fiercely amazing things.

Kristen and Trai

Kristen is an only child, so she views her close girlfriends as sisters. This means I’m an aunt! I plan on being a major part of Dominick’s life and I can’t wait to experience life with him.

In honor of Dom being born on May 25th, I have written a list of 25 things I hope to teach him in his life.

    1. I swear to the Good Lord, your mom was super cool once. Don’t ask me to prove it. She’d kill me if I told you half of the things that make her so cool. OR at least wait until I’m 3 vodka sodas in to ask me.
    2. The great game of flip cup. Your mom and I were and still are champion players. It’s like riding a bike.
    3. Be nice to your teachers and do as they say, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Confession: I grade the “good” kids way easier than the pain in my ass kids. And trust me, your mother will kill you if you don’t get good grades.
    4. Reading is sexy. I mean, sure…video games are cool, but a girl is going to be way more likely to talk to you if you’re a reader.
    5. Gay? Fine by me! Seriously. I’d actually prefer it if you’re gay. By the time you’re able to read and comprehend this, I pray that who people decide to love and marry isn’t even worth a discussion anymore. Plus, I’ll probably be married to a slew of gay men, so I’m sure you’re already in tune with the gay community.
    6. It’s okay to make giant mistakes. Believe me…your mom and I have made some DOOZIES in our day! But when you need help, go to your parents. There isn’t anything you can do to make them love you less. They might be frustrated with you, but I can guarantee that they will do anything in their power to help you out.
    7. Exercise is AWESOME! Getting your heart rate up for just 30 minutes each day boosts your endorphins by like a gadzillion percent. And endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. Ugh. In this moment, I’m really hoping you’re gay so that you can appreciate that Elle Woods quote.
    8. Hold onto your faith. Your friends will let you down. Your family will let you down. God will never let you down. He may frustrate and confuse you, but He will ALWAYS be at your side with your best interest in mind. God has a wonderful, beautiful plan for your life. When life sucks, just trust that God is working in everything for a reason.
    9. Be good to your friends. Apologize when you’ve wronged them and forgive them when they screw up. We’re human, it happens. But life truly is not worth living without some badass friends at your side. Look at all your aunts and uncles; very few of us are genetically related to you, but consider ourselves family. We couldn’t have made this family work without a little bit of forgiveness, understanding and A LOT of love.
    10. Do whatever it takes to get along with your parents and introduce them to your friends. Yes, they’re super annoying, but they are your #1 fans! They are going to be way more likely to let you borrow the car and stay out past curfew if they know and trust who you are with.
    11. Be nice to girls. They are fragile creatures that need to be treated with respect and care.
    12. Is Facebook still at thing in 2029? God, I hope so! I can only imagine all the cool foods I will be eating and fantastic things I will be doing in 15 years! I will want to make sure all my friends know about it! I digress… Don’t friend your parents on Facebook! Sure, you should be open and honest with them about your life, but your friends are idiots and are going to post stupid things that you would much rather your parents didn’t know about. And the truth is, they probably don’t need to know. Don’t worry… I’ll talk to them about this.
    13. Call your grandparents! Once again, you come from a very loving and supportive family. Would it kill you to tell your grandparents what is going on in your life? Plus, they’ll be more likely to slip a 20 in your Christmas card!
    14. YOU’RE a badass kid, but don’t let that go to YOUR head. Let’s go THERE so we can drink THEIR beer THEY’RE dumb enough to be giving away. If you learn nothing else from me, know the difference between these five words!
    15. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Embrace EVERY day you are blessed with by finding some small bit of happiness in it.
    16. Surround yourself with people that make you a better man. Shake the haters off and latch onto the friends that tell you when you’re being an idiot, but encourage you to be better than you were before.
    17. You are going to fail at things in life. What will impress people is when you get up and try again EVERY time. You’ll probably even impress yourself.
    18. NEVER drink straight Everclear. You’ll go blind and your man bits will never work right again! Okay…maybe not, but seriously. Not worth the risk.
    19. Be silly and laugh at yourself! People will laugh with you and life is more fun when you’re not worried what other people are thinking.
    20. A few days after you were born, Maya Angelou passed away. She was a brilliant poet and author. She was also an actress, screenwriter, director, civil rights activist, and educator. One of her most famous quotes is “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In my 29 years in this world, I have learned this to be absolutely true. I can’t remember what one of my ex-boyfriends said to make me angry, but I remember being so angry I threw a hairbrush at his foot. I can’t remember every kind act your mom has ever done for me, but I know she has made me feel loved. The point is, don’t overthink saying the right thing or doing everything right; focus on how your words and actions will affect people later.
    21. Don’t let your significant other be the focus of your life 100% of the time. You still need to put effort into your friendships because who else is going to listen while you ramble on about how perfectly fantastic they are?? And trust me – it can be very hard to earn back friendships you pushed aside for a relationship that lasted half as long.
    22. Learn to cook. There is nothing sexier than a man offering to make dinner.
    23. Something my mom taught me: Never rely on anyone to take care of you financially past the age of 22(ish). Not even your parents. You could and should rely on Mom and Dad to help you when you need it, but learn to be self-sufficient. And never, EVER, expect your significant other to support you 100%. Life happens and you need to know how to take care of yourself.
    24. Something my dad taught me: Always have more than one toolbox to work from. Be good at more than one thing. Your first career choice might cease to interest you someday, or for reasons outside of your control, you are unable to maintain your dream job. Be able to make money doing something else and be willing to learn new skills.
    25. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) When we love people, it is more difficult to wrong each other, but when we do (we’re human, so it’s going to happen!), they will see the love in our hearts and be better able to forgive us. Plus, you want to be remembered as the nice guy and not the bully. Loving people should come naturally to you because your parents are two of the most loving people I have ever met. It has never quite made sense to me how two people can be so short in stature and yet have hearts so big. You are truly blessed, Dominick.



WHAT? You’re 5?! Already??

Today is my nephew, Mason’s, 5th birthday!


Mason is my sister Danielle’s (Danni) boisterous (not so!) baby boy! Although I have not had the joy of being in Mason’s life since day 1 (that’s a whole OTHER story!), I am so blessed to have him in my life now. When I first met Mason, it was September 2009 and he was 16 months old. I was so excited to have this blonde bouncing (ALL over the place) kid in my life. All he wanted to do was smile, giggle and bounce! Danni and Mason live in Akron with a large branch of our family tree, so unfortunately I do not get to see Mason on a regular basis. But not seeing him all the time makes each of his developments so much more obvious. It started with walking. Sure, he walked when I first met him, but he didn’t really enjoy walking. Mason preferred to BOUNCE! It was like playing with a freaking kangaroo! Then after the walking came the talking. He started to be able to formulate actual words and started to put them together into sentences! And then bowling! Ha! I remember after the walking and talking, David (my brother), Danni and I took Mason bowling and he loved it. And now, dinosaurs! For most 5-year-olds, especially Mason, dinosaurs are the COOLEST. He still just a kid, so it’s simple, but I love to see him develop a passion for something. It’s wonderful to think that someday he will have that same passion for deeper ideas.

My last visit with Mason was for his 5th birthday party. Everything was dinosaur themed, thanks to the amazing party planning skills of my sister and my Aunt Emily. After the party, I got to spend the night with Danni and Mason. We got Swenson’s Galley Boy Burgers (ermegherd…possibly one of my favorite foods. My best friend Kristen, who is from Akron, brought me a Galley Boy from Akron to Columbus once, keeping it warm with her car’s seat heater. God, I love that girl.) and milkshakes and watched Jurassic Park. Ok…Danni and I watched Jurassic Park. Mason made it through maybe 30 minutes of it before falling asleep (proof we’re genetically related). Danni and I stayed up gabbing and fell asleep with the TV on (something we both love to do and more proof we are sisters).

After breakfast the next morning, I had to hit the road back home.

On my way out the door, Mason yelled, “See ya later! Don’t be a stranger!”

Kid, you couldn’t keep me away if you tried.

For Mason on his FIFTH Birthday, My 5 Favorite things about Mason:

1. His gorgeous blonde hair! Boy, I pay good money to get my hair your color!

2. His endearing smile. When that kid smiles and giggles, you can’t help but to join in.

3. His sense of humor. Mason is 5, so not everything that he finds hilarious, actually is, but I’m 28 and still have that problem, so we’ve got that in common.

4. His love of books! I’m an English teacher, so every holiday, I bring new books for Mason and I get to read them to him. Those are a few of my most precious Mason Moments.

5. His originality. There is no other kid just like Mason and he is growing to be one cool little man. I am very privileged to be a part of his life and watch him grow.

My first time meeting Mason, September 2009

My first time meeting Mason, September 2009

Mason Now(ish) How can you not love those cheeks?!

Mason Now(ish) How can you not love those cheeks?!

Galley Boys with Danielle & Mason

Galley Boys with Danielle & Mason

Passed out on the couch with the dogs. We are definitely carrying the same DNA.

Passed out on the couch with the dogs. We are definitely carrying the same DNA.

Mason's Artistry! The drawing on the top right depicts this paste Christmas when (my brother) David and I taught Mason how to make and launch spitballs.

Mason’s Artistry! The drawing on the top right depicts this past Christmas when (my brother) David and I taught Mason how to make and launch spit balls.



…has come to an end. My birthday season has been well celebrated and thoroughly documented! It has been a true reminder of the many blessings and plethora of beautiful people I have in my life.

Last nights’ Closing Ceremony was a 90-minute hot yoga class, in which I got to pick ALL the music! Needless to say, my mix was a little erratic, but mostly filled with poppy, upbeat, and for the most part – 90s!, tunes. Have you ever played a song that you LOOOOVE for someone, and as soon as it starts playing, you rethink everything you ever liked about that song??

listening to music

Well, that was not the case. I rocked out to 90 minutes of some of my favorite songs and had a blast doing it! And I’m pretty sure that everyone there had a good time as well! If they didn’t like the music, They should have at least gotten a kick out of how excited I was!

I have included my playlist below in case you want to get your own JanuAshley Jam on! RAWK!

  1. Go For It! – Hot Sundae (Saved by the Bell)
  2. Autobiography – Ashlee Simpson
  3. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
  4. Somebody That I Used To Know (KDrew Remix) — KDrew
  5. Stronger – Glee Cast
  6. Where’s The Love – Hanson
  7. The King Is Dead But The Queen is Alive – P!nk
  8. Fairytale – Sara Bareilles
  9. If I Could Turn Back Time — Cher (This led to an all out, queer sing-along!! Faaaabulous!)
  10. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  11. Tearin’ Up My Heart – ‘N Sync
  12. Fun, Fun, Fun – The Beach Boys (Did a little Warrior 2 surfing!)
  13. (You Drive Me) Crazy – Britney Spears
  14. Come on Over – Christina Aguilera
  15. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) – Backstreet Boys
  16. Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid (Ohhh….my….Our trainer, Alexander, came up with a brilliant yoga parody on the spot. He has a gift, I tell ya!)
  17. Sparkling Diamonds – Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge
  18. Runaway Baby – Bruno Mars
  19. Beauty and the BEAT! – Parody by Todrick Hall (If you haven’t seen this video, WATCH IT NOW!)
  20. Cheeseburger in Paradise – Jimmy Buffett
  21. Glamorous (Feat. Ludacris) — Fergie
  22. Say My Name – Destiny’s Child (Apparently Alexander loathes this song, so we got extra obliques…sorry guys!)
  23. Tubthumping — Chumbawumba
  24. Cecilia – Simon & Garfunkel
  25. Orange Colored Sky – Natalie Cole
  26. One Day — Matisyahu
  27. Because – Beatles cover from Across the Universe movie
  28. Man in the Mirror – Michael Jackson (Most unproductive savasana EVER, but awesome nonetheless!)

28 & Counting!

Today marked my 10,227th day on Earth. It has been a wonderful birthday season! I say “season,” because every year, I celebrate my birthday as much as humanly possible. Not only do I love having the excuse to see all my friends and family, but if I’m being honest (and I think that’s part of the purpose of this blog!), I love being the center of attention. I try to keep this part of my personality concealed the other 11 months of the year (I’m not sure I actually succeed at doing this!), but for the month of January, I let my fab-flag fly and soak up the spotlight. 

This year’s birthday celebrations were wonderful. I got to celebrate with my friends through dancing, parties, good food, a weekend out-of-town, and most importantly — through laughter. This time of year is always a reminder of how blessed I am, not only to be loved by so many beautiful people, but how blessed I am to be able to spread my love over those same people. I am thankful for all of you that celebrated with me in one way or another. Whether we were shaking our booties on the dance floor, feeling nostalgic over a delicious meal, giggling hysterically in a hotel room, sharing our lives over the phone or all of the above, your presence in my life, as cliché as it sounds, is truly the best present I could ever get. So thank you to each and every one of you for being the loves of my life.

For my 28th birthday, I decided to do a quick free-write (this is a brainstorming process I use with my students where you write down everything that comes to your mind, right as it comes) of 28 Things I’ve Learned in My Life Thus Far. Enjoy!

  1. God exists.
  2. Family isn’t only genetic.
  3. Be flexible. It’s annoying when I’m not.
  4. I don’t need constant company to be happy. Some time alone is actually okay.
  5. I can’t force a relationship, not matter how much I want it.
  6. My mind is stronger than my body. It can make my body work.
  7. Being happy isn’t hard. It’s a choice.
  8. Writing can be therapeutic.
  9. Friendships wax and wane, but no matter what, I must be there for my friends when they need me – no matter what.
  10. There’s nothing like the love of a puppy to make me smile through my tears.
  11. People’s bodies may die, but their souls live on forever through the people they loved.
  12. Never rely on another person to take care of me. (From Mom)
  13. Sometimes I need a day off of work for personal and mental wellness.
  14. I talk a lot. People deserve to be listened to as well.
  15. My dad might not always say or do the right thing, but his heart is always in the right place.
  16. Love doesn’t show up where I expect it.
  17. It’s incredibly gratifying to give a heartfelt gift to someone.
  18. Arguments don’t need to be resolved in a day. People will still love me, even if they’re angry with me, the next day. Take some time to breathe and think.
  19. I will never be too old for the magic of Disney World.
  20. Music has the power to make me feel emotions deeper than I ever thought possible.
  21. It’s ok to cry and want to give up, but don’t give up. And don’t cry for long.
  22. Don’t be afraid to wear the sexy stilettos. Stand tall and gorgeous at 6’4”.
  23. People will surprise me if given the chance.
  24. All people have something beneficial to offer this world.
  25. Sometimes, to really love someone else and to really love myself, I have to let them go.
  26. I can’t start the next chapter of my life if I keep re-reading the last one. I might re-read the chapter to remind myself of the lessons I learned, but I must reminisce and keep going.
  27. Work keeps the lights on and the closets brimming. I must do something I’m passionate for.
  28. Love exists.  Soak it up and drench yourself in it, so that on the days when you can’t feel it, you have enough saved up to lather on other people who need reminded.


This will certainly be a year to watch,

This will certainly be a year to watch!

Birthday Extravaganza!

Now, before y’all start throwing birthday well wishes out there all willy-nilly, I should preface this by saying that my birthday isn’t actually for another week, on January 21st! I will be out-of-town this weekend on a little Girl’s Trip, so my party came early, pre-actual-birthday this year.

I have found that no matter what goes awry  in my life, I am always surrounded by beautiful people. I don’t mean people who are beautiful on the outside (that just happens to be a coincidence! I swear!). I mean people who have beautiful souls. People that are not only striving to consistently better themselves, but people who lift me up to become the best version of myself possible. I figure at this point, I’m iAsh 7.0. Hah!

My friends are the kind of people who:

♥ May disappear for a while, but really come around when they sense that they are needed or wanted.

♥ Will respond to a 2am phone call or text (I think I need to thank every one of my friends for this!).

♥ Know my obnoxious, loud-mouthed, inappropriate side and love me nonetheless.

♥ Know my ugly, self-loathing, stubborn side and every time, remind me that 1) I still need to work on my crazy 😉 and 2) I’m being ridiculous.

♥ Tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.

♥ Bring out things in me that I never knew existed (a passion for working out, most recently!)

♥ Support my crazy endeavors! (blogging, running a half marathon, becoming a teacher…)

♥ No matter what we are doing, create a plethora of fun.

♥ Accept the whole of me, and not just the pink, sparkly, shiny parts.

This is obviously just the tip of the friend iceberg, but these are the points that stand out to me at first review.

Once a year, I use my birthday as an excuse to attempt to gather all the people I love so dearly in one place and celebrate life and love. This past weekend was said celebration! I got to spend Friday night with a few close girlfriends gabbing, eating, drinking and just being girls. Saturday-day was spent with one of my best friends, Kristen, on Operation Sole Sister (she and I buy each other a pair of shoes each year for our birthday/Christmas gift). Saturday night was when almost everyone gathered at a local bar to party! That night happened so fast and was filled with such joy, that I didn’t truly get a chance to revel in it. Now that I have had a chance to pause and reflect, I feel so blessed to think of all the folks that came out, not just for me, but for a celebration of friendship. There were friends that I’ve had for almost 10 years and friends that I have had for just under a year. No matter the length of the relationship, I know that these people have filled my life with abundant happiness and purpose. I believe that God put us on this earth to love one another, and I am surrounded by so many beautiful illustrations of that every day.

Sparkle, Glitter & Shine! It's birthday time! (Click me to enlarge!)

Sparkle, Glitter & Shine! It’s birthday time! (Click me to enlarge!)