The True Measure of a Man

In August it finally occurred to me that I had forgotten for three months about my monthly blood tests.  I guess they weren’t “firm” appointments because I never got any reminders about them. After getting back from our trip east I finally went in to get blood drawn.  Then I promptly forgot about even getting the results back. I have a very short attention span.

Today I went in and asked if I could have a copy of the prior month’s results.

Me: Could you look at what the lab sent back last month?
It says negative.
Negative? Like I’m not pregnant?
That’s what it looks like.
Oh, well I already knew that. I don’t have a uterus.
Nurse: Oops, they ran the wrong test.
Me: I would like a refund please.

I saw the homeless woman again today from Friday. She was making her way across a busy intersection and when I went back the other way she was gone.

I had a nightmare the other night that a friend of mine was cooking puppies.  I won’t say who the friend was because they would read into it too much. The whole puppy cooking was eerily similar to the scene from the movie Immortals where the three high priestesses were burned to death in the silver bull statue.  I woke up thinking I must have serious psychological issues. Maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this.  My brain permanently files images like these just to torture me sometimes.  In my files: the people falling from the World Trade Center, a friend getting run over by a garbage truck, warlord atrocities, anything involving child abuse or animal cruelty. All hell on earth. And so when I have someone in the doctor’s office telling me that I’m not pregnant I can’t get upset.  I can’t get upset about anything really these days in my own little world compared to what else is going on in the world.

I also know that when I’m starting to feel upset, empty, or hopeless it means I’m not pursuing the things that matter.  I used to think that I had to reach the top of everything, but now I’m content down near the bottom.  Somewhere along the way I realized that there’s not a whole lot at the top. Every once in a while I have to remind myself what it is that I am chasing.


When I was in North Carolina back in August I grabbed a book off the nightstand from my mom’s guest room.  I don’t know what made me take it since it’s geared towards men but I stuffed it in my bag for some reason, maybe thinking Brett might read it.  On the plane flying back, I turned one of the pages and written in the top corner was, “last page Norman read on May 15, 2011.” My mom had marked the page that my dad had been reading before he died. First, I was really overcome with emotion and tears were streaming down my cheeks, because I always get that way on airplanes because of my dad.  Then I realized how amazing it was that my mother had marked this page.  I called her later and she said she didn’t even remember doing it.  Here are a few of the last few passages he read:

The true mark of man is found in the quality of his relationships – the capacity you have to love and be loved.

This makes me realize that my greatest fear should never be of failure, but the fear of actually investing my entire life in something that doesn’t really matter.

We live in a culture that measures greatness by building a business, amassing some large fortune, or being a celebrity. But in my mind true greatness is measured by the impact you make on the lives of other people.

And perhaps most important to men struggling in today’s world are King David’s words: If you seek Him, He will let you find Him. If this is true, then every single one of us – today, right now, in this very moment – is as close to God as we want to be – as we choose to be.

Great book on what really matters in life. The True Measure of a Man via #book

The book is The True Measure of a Man: How Perceptions of Success, Achievement & Recognition Fail Men in Difficult Times. Get it for your husband, brother, dad, son and every other man you know.  And read it for yourself.  I think it applies to women just as much. 

Men so often define themselves by what they do, who they know, or what they own. And when they do so, they unwittingly set themselves up for great confusion and failure in their personal lives. – Richard Simmons.

One of my favorite quotes about my dad was in an article by Jay Flemma, that his greatest gift to the world was his ineffable joy in life: He could beat your pants off on the golf course, and you’d feel like he just gave you a Christmas present. You couldn’t wait to get back out there and lose to him again so you could just share a great day on the course with him.

That’s how I want to live.

I want people to feel like I gave them a Christmas present.

My mother said she was doing a Bible study called Living Beyond Yourself.  I love that saying: Living Beyond Yourself. I think it’s kind of the same thing.

Sometimes I want to shake people I know and say: Stop the pity party! No one is out to get you. Try not to spend so much energy hating the people that you think have wronged you. In fact, I would love to have your problems. Can we trade problems?  Right now….and no takebacks.

Anyway, so sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m not pregnant.  The universe likes to play cruel jokes on me but I think it knows that I have a sense of humor. No puppies were harmed in the creation of this post.




  1. Maryann says

    oh, man, I just LOVE YOU, love you, LOVE YOU!!! this post made me laugh, made me cry, made me feel different about my life. THANK YOU ASHLEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    reading your blog is like getting a Christmas gift, my dear, so rest easy. you are living the way that you said you wanted to and blessing TONS of people! (and actually, so is your dad, as you share memories/thoughts of him with us. so cool!!)

    p.s. LOVE your sense of humor!!!!! i do hope you got your money back, though!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    >>Me: I would like a refund please.

  2. Kristen says

    thank you for your post, actually all of them. I find them inspiring. Thank you for posting a lot lately What has been on your heart.

  3. Stacey Wilson says

    I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU!! Your posts are so inspiring. They draw readers in, like we are sitting with you, face to face, sharing a convo over a cup of tea or coffee or maybe a water with lemon! Your humor and grace are to be emulated and shared. Thanks for being you. Thanks for sharing what sparks your interests and feeds your fire. I really liked this: “I also know that when I’m starting to feel upset, empty, or hopeless it means I’m not pursuing the things that matter. I used to think that I had to reach the top of everything, but now I’m content down near the bottom. Somewhere along the way I realized that there’s not a whole lot at the top. Every once in a while I have to remind myself what it is that I am chasing.” Amen.

  4. victoria says

    Every new post from you is a Christmas gift. Thank you. I owe you a lot of gifts in return. Thanks for sharing your life and your passions. Thanks for being honest. And real. You are an inspiration. Merry Christmas!

  5. kristen says

    Your dreams are probably not meant to be taken literally…God gives us some dreams to open up communication with Him. The dreamer understands the interpretation, so see if this makes sense…You have a concern for your friends properly moving in the gifts they are given.
    Your friends are precious to you and I pray they realize how precious you are to them. Blessings, Beautiful.

  6. Kash says

    It’s “funny” that I read this today. It is the 2nd anniversary of PaPa’s death. He gave a lot of the same advice. Love you, PaPa!!

  7. Sandra says

    “I also know that when I’m starting to feel upset, empty, or hopeless it means I’m not pursuing the things that matter.” I love this sentence so much … I might just have to print and frame it! It’s a great reminder that focussing on the important things in life is what makes us truly happy. Thanks Ashley, you really are a Christmas present.

  8. colleen from Alabama says

    Small World. Richard Simmons is a friend of mine. I have known him for years and now our kids go to school together. He is an awesome guy and your post will delight him. You may already know this but he has a new book out called “Reliable Truth”. I haven’t read it but I am sure it is as good as his first. Funny how a guy from a small suburb in Birmingham, Alabama (Homewood) can be used to encourage you all the way in California. I love how God does that.

  9. christie says

    I love every. single. post. you. write!!
    I love your outlook on life—what you feel, experience, do…. Wow—am I ever inspired!!
    And Jesus is putting Himself right in front of you in the form of that homeless woman! Whatsoever you do to the least of my people….

    God bless you, Ashely!!

  10. Trisha Ashley says

    I loooove this post Ashley!!! Again, your vulnerability to share your strength through your struggles…it is a humbling reminder that my problems are so much smaller than so many peoples out there..the fact that I have not much money to do “anything” because so much money goes to groceries to feed the six children I was able to bear… that you were stripped of that ability…its humbling and I needed to hear it today. THank you for the reminder that my problems could be so much greater.. I also plan to pass on the words of wisdom about living in a culture that defines us by money, fame, etc, to my he is struggling with feeling adequate enough…Thank you.. xoxo

  11. chrissi says

    you are a christmas gift. you make me laugh. you make me cry. you make me want to make something. you are a gift.
    when the people i love are cranky, i asked (okay, demand) they make a list of all the great things about their life♥

  12. Kate says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I needed the reminder today, this week, this month and for the rest of the year.

  13. SusanIrene says

    I’m adopting your comment about “pursuing things that matter”! I think I will get this book and instead of giving it to my son as it might sit on a shelf and gather dust, I’ll text him a quote every day.
    Thank you for your generosity in sharing with us.

  14. says

    LOVE this post!! I laughed and cried…maybe at the same time?!! Great things to think about and even better things to remember!! I think I just might buy that book for my husband so that I can borrow it. 😉

    Thank you!


  15. says

    I loved this post, Ashley (and I love your blog). And the quote about your Dad was so wonderful. I will be getting this book for my husband and I will read it too. Thank you. Keep up the fantastic work you do and the amazing attitude you share.

  16. says

    I love the mention of stop the pity party too. Why do so many feel the urgent need to be worse off than the other guy? Not only with physical problems but all types such as financial. So few people will admit to having enough — ‘Thank God!’ I know a couple that got a significant unexpected check in the mail in the mid 5 figure range. Instead of rejoicing and going WooHoo! They started moaning about benefits they would lose, seemingly forgetting that now they have over and above what is needed to live a financially solvent lifestyle without the needs for the benefits they would lose. I see this so often. I’m just happy if I can pay all the bills on bill day and have a little leftover to save and even without the little leftover I am thrilled. Think of the woman that lost her only coin and how she swept and cleaned until she found it and then rejoiced with anyone that came near. She wasn’t bemoaning the fact that she ONLY HAD ONE coin and when it was gone she would be broke. No she was happy to have the lost coin.

    Let’s all focus on what we can be glad about instead of what we might not have or want. It will certainly take the stress out of our lives.

  17. Stephanie Fox says

    I immediately thought of this song when I read your post. Lenka ” The Show”:
    It is one of my favorites and it means different things to me at different times. I think you will like it, especially at 3:26 in the song.
    I enjoy your site. You are very creative and inspiring!