Where You Look is Where You Go

I was asked a few months ago to teach a class at the SNAP Conference in Utah.  I was humbled, honored, and mostly nervous.  I’d never taught a sewing class before. The sewing class went great and I’ll share more about that project another day because that would be a huge tangent from this post.

So I went to the conference.  It’s my third year attending (even though I missed last year).  Dana had asked me a while back if I would share a room with her.  I was like YES immediately.  Then a few days later Dana asked if I’d mind if Katy and Delia stayed with us too in the room.  I started to have some anxiety….staying with three girls I really didn’t know that well when usually I stay by myself?!  This is one of those instances where you should always say YES.  Even though it’s crazy and outside of your comfort zone.  And I said yes.

The first night it was just Dana and I. We stayed up until 3am catching up and talking about what we’d been working on.  The next day Katy and Delia showed up. I’d never met them in person before.  And I had reservations about sharing the tiniest bed ever with someone I’d just met, and a bathroom with three others, and what kind of pajamas do grown women wear because I just wear an old t-shirt and yoga pants to bed?! Katy and I ended up sharing a bed and I think the funniest part of that first night was realizing we had identical gray t-shirt and black yoga pants pajamas.  It’s funny how you think you know someone from reading their stories online…but you truly don’t know someone until you’ve met them in person. Even then, you might not really get to know them. What I loved about getting to know these women is that it was so effortless to hang with them…and I learned so much in just a few short days.

A bunch of us decided to go late one night to meet a few other local bloggers at a restaurant for dessert (women who also blog but hadn’t attended the conference.) Anneliese had the idea to come up with questions and we would go around the table one by one and answer them. We went around the table one by one and answered the same question. First: How did you meet your husband? then What did you do before you started a blog? The answers were very diverse but there was one trend….every woman at the table was Mormon. Except for me.  I joked that somehow I had infiltrated their group.

I told them how years ago two young men had come to my door and had tried to tell me about the Book of Mormon….but I must have been their first door….because the pitch was horrible.  I made them come in the house and try again.  After they’d had some water and cooled off, I interrogated them: Who would send you here in the middle of summer to knock on doors?  Don’t they know it’s 115 degrees?  You look nice in your suit but it’s just too hot for that kind of clothing this time of year. Did anyone in this neighborhood even open their door for you? Half the neighbors leave for the summer…for good reason..it’s TOO HOT to be outside. We need to get your introduction nailed down or no one is going to even hear you out. You won’t make it a week out here!  Here’s my number you call me if anyone give you a hard time okay? And they were the nicest kids.  For the longest time I thought about them and that I should have just asked them to come by a few more times while they were in the desert to hear them out…even if I was just practice for their mission. I always wonder where they are now.

Anyway, as we went around the table telling all of our stories, everyone’s stories (except mine) involved something Mormon-specific.  It got to be funny because someone would mention BYU and I would just feign surprise.  You went to BYU? You met your husband at BYU? You are Mormon? I’m shocked! But there was so much I didn’t know about the Mormon/LDS church and each person would consciously stop and explain some name or term they used, before I even asked. It was like they didn’t want me to feel left out. I didn’t expect it…but hope they know how much I appreciated it. (Christie, Jessica, Danielle, and Cheri too!)

*****

So on the last day of the conference I sat in the afternoon pondering which afternoon class I should go to, but all I could think about was the temple. I wanted to see it, and maybe pick up another Book of Mormon (because somehow I lost the one the two young men had brought me.) At some point I just stopped pondering….and walked straight out the side door of the hotel.

It was cold and rainy and I had little more than a thin hoodie to keep me warm.  I literally froze solid waiting for the train to arrive. Once on the train car I asked a woman if I was headed the right direction. She said yes.  She told me she was going to the homeless shelter for the night.  I saw her eyeing my hot pink “SPEAKER” badge.  “This is your stop,” she said a few moments later.  The door didn’t open and I stood there like an idiot.  She got up from her seat and pressed some magic button that opens the door.  “I’m a train newbie,” I said to her.  She just smiled and said “You’ll be an expert soon.”

Getting off the train it was windy and my umbrella began to come apart….literally in pieces. I wasn’t sure where I was going so I ventured into the building labeled “Church Museum.” (if you get to Salt Lake go through the museum, the history of the church is fascinating and the artifacts in the museum blew me away). I told the lady at the front desk that I only had about a half hour to see everything, so maybe she could plot out the must-sees.  She motioned for a man named David to come over and asked him to give me a quick tour.  I’d walked in with another family and the husband said to me “It’s all true.”  I didn’t know how I felt about someone trying to warn me that “it was all true” before I’d even had a chance to doubt…but I liked his enthusiasm. I think I really walked into the tour like I’d won the lottery.

I got the VIP tour and I began wishing I had more time.  I asked David, my tour guide, question after question.  I was literally glued to every detail. So much of the Mormon religion I already believed for myself without even knowing.  And I was truly, deeply interested in this common thread that all my new friends had.

 

 

After the tour I thanked David and went on my way with my map of the church campus. I ran across the street (I think I jaywalked…I’m bad at navigating city-life) through the iron gates of Temple Square.

 

I stood in front of the temple (now drenched from the rain) in awe, with my half broken umbrella. The tabernacle was closed due to rehearsal but I could hear the muffled singing of the choir and suddenly it dawned on me that I’d actually left a conference, traveled by train and trekked through the freezing rain to see a temple I couldn’t even go into.  And when normally I would have felt anxiety about missing something or the appearance of having bailed…I felt like I was right where I was supposed to be.  I just stood there for a few moments. I thought about the woman who was on the bus headed to a homeless shelter for the night, who had helped me find my way. I thought about the effort that went into this temple and the trek to Utah and Salt Lake City by this group of people over a 100 years ago. And I thought about the persecution. And I thought about my new friends and how they had embraced me as a non-Mormon. And my soul took a huge picture of it all:

True spiritual experience often begins in those instants when your soul takes a picture of things. -Rob Bell

 

*****

This is definitely not the conference recap post I ever expected to write.  I could post a gazillion photos of the fancy decor and the sponsor booths and myself standing with famous people….but I didn’t really take any photos. I could sit here and tell you what an amazing time I had at the conference, how many amazing people I met, how much I learned from the classes etc…but I won’t do that because I skipped some of them and I don’t want anyone to know whose I skipped.  Honestly, I think I somewhat checked out for some of the time because it was as if I was going through this identity crisis: who am I? what am I? where do I want to go with all of this?

I think conferences can be intimidating if you let them be.  It’s easy to start wondering where you stack up against other blogs.  And at blogging conferences people don’t naturally ask you your name…they ask what your website is, as if that’s who you are.  It’s a strange phenomenon. The other thing is that people gravitate toward small groups….because that’s just human nature.  We are looking to connect.  It starts to seem cliquish but I don’t think anyone means to be that way…you look for where you are comfortable.  I do try to wander but it just starts to look like I’m walking around aimless and lost.

Another reason blog conferences can be intimidating: there is a lot going on in the blog world. And you start to look at the class list and attend classes and you realize you aren’t doing anything right.  Your page views are low, you should be monetizing things to bring in income, you aren’t utilizing social media, your photos stink, you need sponsors, sponsors etc etc….it’s all overwhelming if you look at it like that.  But I think that’s why I checked out a little….I had an epiphany:

I create my own path.

Ok maybe it’s not a huge epiphany for most people….but it was for me.  It’s way too easy to compare myself to others and start feeling like I need to be doing what everyone else is doing.  I always feel like I’m so behind on the trends and the social media and it all just makes my head hurt. And all I really want to do is write and share and support others.  This quote is written on an 8 foot tall chalkboard in my office….this is my vision for each day….and when I’m focused on so many other peripheral things I probably accomplish this 10% of the time, or maybe that’s generous:

Stretch to others (where you look is where you go) via lilblueboo.com #quote Sylvia Plath Quote from my journal

Noelle Pikus-Pace spoke at dinner one night at the conference.  She told some great stories about the Olympics….one ending with the moral:

Where you look is where you go.

It stuck with me.  I couldn’t stop thinking about all the minutia I kept getting bogged down in.

Even though I didn’t take any photos, I did happen to be in a few photos…like this one of  my conference roommates and my friend Anneleise. Anneleise offered to take me on a tour of temple square…which is what planted the seed. (She was going to a funeral beforehand and I wasn’t quite ready for a Mormon funeral.) I think I met my match in Dana for asking questions….she’s really inquisitive and I love that. I threw just as many questions back at her because she used to work in the film industry and, well, I’ve seen every movie ever made (or at least 92% of them).  Our best discussions were about opportunities we’d walked away from recently because our hearts weren’t in them.  It was so refreshing to hear someone else’s perspective on choosing what is right for you personally, despite what the industry thinks is the trend.  I learned how Katy grew up with artist parents and it really opened my eyes to what Boo might be experiencing.  And I loved hearing her talk about her children (I secretly wish I’d been named Olive or Divine)…and I think she just makes me want to be a better mother all around.  Katy brought us all honey in a hand engraved jar she made…she’s embarking on a beekeeping journey (I think that’s what you call it).  We talked a lot about zero waste lifestyles and I’m inspired to focus on treating the planet better. (so inspired that I bought the book Zero Waste Home on my phone while we were talking) And Delia…just the sweetest. Over lunch one day she told Dana and I that both of her parents are deaf, something she really hasn’t ever shared publicly.*  It really uprooted me.  I think I said “that’s amazing” a few times which wasn’t what I meant. It’s just that I can’t imagine a childhood with two parents who live in a world of silence. I still can’t. Hearing her talk about her experiences growing up put me through this range of emotions I can’t even begin to describe except that I felt awe, grief, curiosity and reverence all at the same time.

*I talked with Delia about sharing this multiple times and she was okay with it.  I wouldn’t just share a detail like this.

 

Before my phone starts ringing off the hook I should clarify that I’m not converting to Mormonism (at least not today).  I don’t like putting labels onto things.  I’ve been non-denominational pretty much my whole life until I became a member of our local Presbyterian church last year.  I love the people I’ve met there but I’ve had kind of a hard time with the direction they seem to be heading.  I think I feel most comfortable just being on my own, feeling like I can attend any church and any denomination at any time.  Most importantly: I remain committed to Christ. I think that’s all that matters. My friend Shivaun bought me a subscription of Give Us this Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic.  She visited a few weeks ago and picked up the March magazine off my desk. Well, I can see you’ve enjoyed the March readings. It was STILL in the plastic mailing sleeve.  Embarrassing. But, I DID open the April Magazine.  I read it today and the reflection is on the Way of the Wind:

In the face of uncertainty, it takes honestly and courage to acknowledge our dependence on God. […] We never fully know where that life comes from or where it will take us. The scene from the Acts of Apostles is a beautiful example of what happens when a community dedicates itself to this gift of hope. The disciples of Christ sold their property and laid it at the feet of the apostles. They gave their possessions, their land, and their lives so that they could be utilized in whatever way the Wind wanted. They allowed themselves to be swept up into the turbulent and hopeful life of the Spirit. They were born again from above. -David Farina Turnbloom, April 29th Give Us This Day**

Oh my gosh. YES. That’s what I want. I want to allow myself to be swept up in the turbulent and hopeful life of the Spirit. And let my soul just take picture after picture.Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  I’m going at my own pace (which is sometimes BACKWARDS….yes).  In just a few shorts weeks (literally ONE MONTH) I’m leaving everything I know behind and moving to the Hemlock Inn for our year’s adventure…and I’m excited to just be experiencing, writing and sharing about it all.  I want to spend more time engaged with readers and supporting the other bloggers and writers I’ve met along the way that have always supported me.  I decided to start Storyline this week.   It’s all about creating a life plan.  I’ll let you know how it goes but I already feel back on track.  One day I’ll figure out what I’m going to be when I grow up.

For now, when I focus on what I feel is true and real….I am doing what is right. And where I look…is where I go.

**I should also note that I am not converting to Catholicism either (at least not today).

P.S. I realize I skipped my weekly letter last week.  I’ll resume this Friday. You can sign up for the weekly letter here. That’s all it is…a weekly letter from a friend to a friend.  I don’t send out anything else.  You can read a sample here.

P.P.S. If you get a chance today just go and meet a few of the women I am so thankful to call my friends. I’ll share more links later. Just don’t want to overwhelm you today. Thank you!

Dana

Katy

Delia

Anneliese

 

P.P.P.S.  I haven’t had a chance to write about American Blogger yet because I wanted Brett to see the whole thing first.  I had a chance to talk about that a lot over the last week with women at the conference.  The movie is now available and the Lettered Cottage has a great post up today….much better than I could ever do…so I thought I’d just link to Layla for now. Yay for linking ability : )

Comments

  1. Kari says

    I have always loved your blog and reading your cancer chronicles gave me the courage to share my recovery story after being hit by a drunk driver while training for a half marathon. I’m LDS, and the peace I find on the temple grounds is one of the best things around. I can go in the temple, but often times just staring at that majestic building is enough for me. Life changes are scary and sometimes hard but if you follow your heart it’ll all work out in the end. It always does. I’m so glad you had such an awesome expierence. Keep being you, because you are amazing.

  2. shannon says

    sounds like maybe this new move but be a bit of a spiritual journey and soul searching as well. We converted to Catholicism when my oldest was 3 so 10 years ago. It has been wonderful for us and we feel at home and have always felt like they church was a part of our family.

    Good Luck on your life’s new journey.

    • says

      Oh I agree…definitely a spiritual journey1 I have a friend currently converting to Catholicism and it’s been inspiring to watch her journey. So happy you’ve found a great place for your family!

  3. Mandi says

    Ashley, I just wanted you to know that you inspire me. To be a better Christian (I’m Baptist), to be a better wife, to be a better person. Your courage is contagious and your enthusiasm infectious. I am not a mom … it doesn’t look like it is in God’s plan for me to be, but if I were I could confidently say you would inspire me to be a better mom too. I am excited to see what is next in God’s plan for you and your family!

  4. says

    When I read that you were coming to Utah I was so excited! Just knowing that you were going to be here was kind of like meeting you.
    I have to confess that I prayed that you would have the chance to go to Temple Square and experience the peace that is there and that you would be able to feel the sweet spirit that looking at the Temple can bring, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as well and I encourage you to study and pray about the Book of Mormon. It is true and testifies of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
    I am so glad you enjoyed your visit here. I hope you can come back again sometime. Now I am going to pray that I will have the opportunity to meet you in person someday!

  5. says

    Well hello my Snap Sister. Funny that we chatted the first two days of the conference and the second I found out you were my sister, I couldn’t find you anywhere. Thank you so much for the thoughtful, sweet and lovely gifts. I absolutely love them! That book especially. I’m all about positive thinking these days and it is the perfect reminder to be happy! And I am so glad you had a wonderful experience at Snap. Temple Square holds a special place in my heart for an experience I had there. It truly is a spiritual place. I’m happy you had a change to feel it. Thanks again. You are absolutely fabulous and I am so excited to follow you on your adventures!

    Lindi

    • says

      Oh my gosh I felt like a fraud because I was pretending I didn’t know who you were lol!!! So happy you liked the gifts. It was really fun secretly researching you and seeing what you might like. So great to meet you! Glad we connected!

  6. says

    What a great recap–I’m so glad I got to talk with you at lunch and glad you got to go to temple square for a bit. I love that you let the missionaries practice…I think that speaks volumes about you and your heart. :) And I’m sure they appreciated it as well.

  7. Kate says

    Have you ever seen the movie “Charly” (the 2002 one)? The actors aren’t very good but I cried like a baby while I watched it. You totally remind me of the character Charly (even though we’ve never met!)!

  8. says

    I am glad you got to experience “all things utah” :) Love the SLC temple. Its one of my favs!

    Ps I kinda had the same epiphany! I went to the conference thinking I am no good at blogging. I’ve gotta get my butt in gear and get my blog to something respectable. After leaving SNAP I realize blogging is good for me, but I am really good at the Etsy thing, so there I shall stay and let everything else fall into place. I good with being me!

    PSS I loved taking your class and my girls have hardly taken their scarves off! But I am so good that I haven’t even gotten a picture of them in them yet 😉 I will though!

  9. Alexis @ Persia Lou says

    What a beautiful recap! You have me in tears over here. That quote from Noelle Pikus-Pace has been in my mind ever since. I love your whole outlook. Thank you for this!

  10. says

    I was the crazy girl that HAD to meet you because my Mom died about the same time as your Dad and I grieved along with you on your blog. This recap was so incredibly beautiful. I was surprised at how much of what I learned at SNAP was deeply personal about myself, my personal journey, and most of all acceptance of my own personal path. It was incredibly empowering. You are so amazing Ashley! Love you and your thoughts and I’m so glad you are willing to share them with the world. They uplift me and help me be a better person!

  11. says

    Oh, your post just made my day. I served as a missionary about 14 years ago in Canada and would have given anything to have had a sweet person like you to practice on!;) and I loved your recap of snap. I kept getting caught up in the “I’m not doing enough” and “I’m doing everything wrong”. That quote might be the best thing I’ve read in a long time…I think I may just design it up into a print and keep it above my desk. Thank you for being SO real. Your blog has always been the perfect place to come and unwind to at the end of the day and so look forward to your new adventure and joining you along the way. Whew, that was long. Short version: YOU are amazing! 😉

    • Lissy says

      Hi Kiki,

      This is a crazy question, but did you by chance serve part of your mission in Red Deer, Alberta? I was in young women’s when Red Deer 1st ward received sister missionaries and I seem to think that one of them had your first name.

  12. says

    I feel like I needed to hug you at least two or three times during SNAP!. Honestly, it made my day you said hello to me. Yes, that simple act was one of the highlights of the conference. Loved reading this recap. It is by far my favorite and not just because you followed your spirit as it guided you downtown without knowing why. No matter the religion, I admire anyone who has the courage to live a spiritually guided life. And you, my friend, do just that. I can’t wait to see what adventures await you.

    P.S. Thanks for the reminder to always look where I want to go and stop worrying about the little things that may try to derail me.

  13. says

    Love this post!! I am in Utah too – sad I missed you! I grew up Mormon but don’t practice anymore, however my family does and I respect that as I hope they respect me. So sweet of you to take in the missionaries for even a moment. They will remember that forever. My nephew is on a mission right now and seeing how much worry my SIL has, it is so good to know there are kind souls out there and I hope he meets one like you! Glad you wrote this, that it is ok to have an open mind and perspective on other peoples religions and to learn about them all! Your awesome!

  14. says

    Ashley,
    I know I already briefly mentioned this…okay, and have a million times. But I really was sad I didn’t get to see you at SNAP (or go at all). I want you to know that through your writing and in person, you have a very similar effect as that temple does. Something with a beautiful spirit just emanates that without even trying. Just by being. That’s how I feel about that temple (I got married there) and that’s how I feel about you. It’s a gift and talent. One that my church refers to as a “spiritual gift”. The kind of talent that isn’t in Miss America. But one given directly from God. Bless you for using yours. (rather than burying it in the sand…as the parable speaks of) I think the reason that people feel special on Temple Square is because it is a humble yet heavenly place meant for closeness to the goodness of this life and the life after this one. Anyone who wants to can feel it’s power. Just as I would feel power being in Rome, or at a beautiful mosque. It’s the power of people trying to be the best they can be. And finding the path that God wants them to take. Which is almost never the one they would have chosen for themselves. Anyway, blah blah blah…I adore you. And am glad that my purple bracelet is still intact. If it ever wears out…I’m gonna need a new one.

    Of course if I would have seen you and Dana at the same time I might have exploded…just saying. I’ve never met her before. I’ve met you. And the two of you together….well….**BOOM**…mind blown.

  15. says

    I can totally relate to your post! In fact it made me tear up a little. I saw you several times during the conference, and I just wanted to say that I think you are adorable. I know that’s silly coming from a perfect stranger, but I’m also one of those conference goers that doesn’t follow the schedule. I find myself wandering around and forging my own rules. :) Thank you for your beautiful recap. xoxo, Brooke

  16. Lissy says

    Ashley, I loved reading your thoughts. I love reading your cancer chronicles. I just lost a good friend in February to cancer. It’s been hard and I miss her a lot. I am LDS and my faith and my testimony of the gospel has really helped me. I have days where something will trigger a memory or remind me of my friend and I will start bawling. Cancer sucks, that’s for sure! Your strength and positive attitude are such an inspiration and give me the “pick me up” I often need. I love reading your posts about your faith and deeper topics. You are such a wonderful example and so inspiring. Please don’t stop writing!
    PS- I think it’s awesome what you did for those young Mormon missionaries- my brother just recently returned from a mission in the States (I live in Canada) and he would have loved to have met someone like you who was so kind and welcoming!

  17. carola says

    I started following you since I saw your amazing video prior to your chemo. I was diagnosed with cancer and was going through chemo around the same time you were. I too have an amazing little girl. I am a mormon living in Utah. I was excited to hear you were coming here for that conference a while back. I’m so happy to hear that you found so much inspiration in those places that are so special to me too. xoxo

  18. Andrea says

    Sounds like an inspiring time was had by all. It’s interesting- because my husband and I went to San Diego in February 2013- we stayed near Old Town area. I’m a sucker for history museums. The little old lady at the Chamber highly recommended the Morman Battalion Historic museum. So we did and it was quite frankly one of the most interesting places to visit on our trip to San Diego. I’d had no idea the story behind it even existed. I am not Mormon, and do not plan to convert either. But the history is something that should be appreciated and shared by all. It was an amazing story of faith. Which to me is what it’s all about. As for the young men traveling about on their missions- I feel the same way- well- we don’t have the same heat you do… but we do get a lot of rain in WA… and if they ever knock on my door- I will definitely be kind. Oh I grew up north of KC Mo- and in Independence they have a beautiful spire… Community of Christ Temple… I always wanted to go inside- but never did. Google it… it’s beautiful.

  19. says

    I loved reading your SNAP recap. I’m a newish blogger and enjoy learning the biz at the classes but get overwhelmed, it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I also think that it is awesome you left and went to the temple. Awesome pics. Thanks again for sharing.

  20. says

    115 degrees!? Are you in Arizona too? How do I not know you?! Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. Most of us don’t have the strength for something like that. I was raised Mormon. After high school, I lost myself and left the church. After a few hard, educational years, I found my way back. I finally learned the difference between happiness and joy. I have so much respect for people who are humble enough to find their faith, especially if it is different than they were raised. Stay close to the Lord and try to remember how you felt Saturday.

  21. Kara says

    I really love the way you write, it speaks to my soul. I’m a Mormon, and I love to hear different spiritual experiences, regardless of faith. I am a born and raised Georgia girl, so not your typical Utah-raised Mormon. I had to decide for myself my own spiritual path, and I appreciate others who make the choices they feel are being true to their authentic self. I think your blog is one of my favorites because you can feel the truth in your words. I love that. Good luck to you on your upcoming journey back to the south.

  22. Maggie says

    What a beautiful post, Ashley. I started following your cancer chronicles and was hooked by your beautiful way of speaking, your inspiration and uplifting posts, as well as your creativity and willingness to share. You make me want to be a better mom. I read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know whether it was true, and received my own spiritual witness that it is, indeed, another testament of Jesus Christ, my Savior. Definitely a must-read. :) Thank you for your wonderful blog and for sharing your journey with us. You truly are inspiring to me!

  23. Stephanie T says

    Hi Ashley—There you go again, speaking so many of the thoughts bouncing around in my brain. Just so you know, I love your blog just the way it is, and although you question your parenting skills, you inspire me so often to be a better Mom. Thank you for a great post.

  24. Anne says

    Ashley, I love your blog and love your spirit. I’ll admit, as a Christian, your openness to Mormonism has me concerned. You were joking a bit about converting there at the end of your post, but if there’s any inch of you that might be serious …. please talk to your pastor about Mormonism. I don’t want to be disrespectful, so I’ll leave it at that.

      • says

        Hi Anne, I appreciate your concern and I super appreciated you leaving it “at that”…because I know exactly what your concerns are. I’m not converting to anything….really maybe I’m “un-converting” to everything. I love Rob Bell’s idea that church is not a noun, it’s a verb.

  25. Maya says

    Hi Ashley – It’s awesome to hear that you and your friends were talking about environmental issues and reducing waste. I will have to check out the book Zero Waste Home. You should also check out 350.org – – it is a wonderful resource and movement. If you really want to freak out, try taking the test of your ecological footprint. I was pretty arrogant about our lifestyle – – thought we were living pretty conscientiously, recycling, using compact fluorescent bulbs, eating plant-based. But I took the test and found out that if everyone on the planet lived like I do, we would need 4 planets to sustain us. That was really sobering. So thank you for sharing your concerns about reducing waste and treating the planet better. We need to do all that we can!

  26. says

    I just loved this post Ashley. I love how real and honest and open you are with your thoughts and feelings. Yes, I am Mormon, and yes, I went to BYU. I have been LDS all my life and know without a doubt that what I believe in is true, and my beliefs guide me daily as I attempt to make the right choices. I know you’re not too far from San Diego- you should check out the Mormon Battalion in Old Town. It’s very interactive and kid-friendly (you can even pan for gold), and tells you more about the story of the early Mormons who settled the area. Just thought I’d mention it! :) It was so great to meet you at SNAP! You are such an inspiration to me!

  27. Deb says

    I’m glad you enjoyed Salt Lake City. Growing up in St. Louis when one of my jr high teachers was asked what city he liked the most (he was military) he said Salt Lake was the cleanest place he had ever lived. We live in AZ and our daughter is serving an 18 month mission for our church LDS in Idaho until next Feb. We are so excited to get to Skype with her on Mother’s Day. Missionaries can only call or Skype on Christmas and Mother’s Day and write home once a week. I still cry missing her but know is she serving the Lord by serving the folks in Idaho. I hope she meets nice people like you like the missionaries that came to your door.

  28. Natalie says

    Ashley, I felt such a quiet peace as I read this post. The Spirit. It is really beautiful and you are wonderful at sharing all of your experiences. A few years ago, I asked you to do a coop with your sewing patterns, and even before that, I always have felt a kinship with you. Like you are a kindred spirit (although you get sooooooo much more done than I do and you are brilliant.)
    I love your heartfelt and authentic posts and have so enjoyed following you through your experiences and how you have dealt with everything. My dad had had cancer for a couple of years when you’re dad died, and I just related so much to everything you said. He has now passed and going through your dad’s death with you helped me through losing him. He was one of those amazing, stand-out people like your dad was.
    I am LDS and you may know this too, but I am so grateful for the knowledge that I can be together forever with my dad. It is beautiful how you are stopping to listen like you are in life and following your own path. Sending love to you.

  29. Shivaun says

    Ashley,

    When are you and the family coming over for spaghetti and meatballs?
    Got a big pot on the stove.

    Thank you for the photos in this post. Thank you for your honesty and thoughtful reflection.

    Love,
    Shivaun

  30. Barbara Schuster Sasse says

    I simply want to say……”I LOVE YOUR HEART” God Bless and Keep You on your new adventure. I cannot wait to live it with you through your eyes……
    I too am blessed to be LDS and truly appreciate your kind words…….xo

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