Monday, January 5, 2015

Life Is with Ashley Cottle

As I've gotten older, I have realized the importance of making friends with people who bring you higher. As I've gotten older and maybe a little wiser, I try to actively learn about those I admire most. What inspires them, what drives them, what makes them blissful. 

Ashley Cottle is one of those people. She is incredibly talented and down-to-earth, with a love for nature, exploring, and helping others. I used to always think that the people who seemed the happiest were the ones who never had never had any let-downs, hardships, or defeat. I believed that those who were full of good energy were just the "lucky" ones. Ashley is ones of those people who displays so much happiness and light, even through hardships. She is one of those people who has you believing it doesn't matter how hard you fall, as long as you have the courage to get back up again. 

I am so blessed to know her, and have her insight on the blog today. 

Grab your Kleenex, and get reading. 

Life is with Ashley Cottle

1. What do you think the three most important parts of living a meaningful life are?

I think there are a lot of different approaches to living a meaningful life. I've met so many people who have found meaning in their lives in different ways than I have. For me, it was realizing my own worth, discovering my passions and then sharing them with the world. In our culture, it's hard to find a balance between being a complete narcissist and being totally inhibited by self-consciousness. I think it's important to go for your dreams, don't be discouraged by failure, persevere and be willing to accept new opportunities along the way. For a long time I was scared of stepping out of my comfort zone. I was so sure I would fail. I would think, "what if I give this everything and it just doesn't work?" I realized that if I don't live for things I'm passionate about, I'm not fulfilled. I am my own worst critic, so recognizing my own worth was really hard for me. Once I started to be easier on myself, I embraced the failures and learned from them. I started recognizing my individual strengths and sharing what I am passionate about with the world. Giving myself the freedom to share what I love allowed me to meet like minded people and learn to love myself despite my faults and past failures. I stopped nagging myself for not being good enough at something and finally started enjoying life as it is. The good, bad and all the in between.

2. Who do you look up to?

I admire so many people for so many different things. Mother Teresa for her faith and absolute dedication to loving and caring for people. My mom for giving everything she does 100% and then some. She can find the silver lining in everything. I'm always incredibly inspired by those who actively live the way they want to see the world. People who strive to make progress and live with an open heart and mind.

3. What are three non-essential things that get you through the day? Ex. chocolate, coffee,...

Humor. Creativity. Delicious, fresh food. I am big into food!

4. What does the world need more of?

Open minds, optimism and forgiveness. A lot less ego and fear based living. 

5. What is your personal mission?

To share what I know and love. To inspire and always stay inspired. To never stop learning, creating and exploring. To live a life full of transparency, silliness and a lot of love.

6. Tell about a moment in your life that has shaped your belief system. A single moment that your heart holds onto forever.

I'll try to keep this short..

When I was 23, I hit a breaking point. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life and it took me a long time to accept that. I thought that it was something that would eventually go away if I ignored it. For years I believed that I was weak for not being able to heal myself of this incredible sadness I always felt. Not once had I ever considered that what I was feeling was innately part of my biology. My lifestyle at that time was working three very emotionally taxing jobs 60+ hours a week, drinking every weekend, and just generally keeping my mind busy all the time. I didn't take much time for myself and after about nine months, I felt like my head was going to explode. I had a mental breakdown and was scared to death. I had never felt so low in my entire life. It was then that I knew I had to suck up my pride and tell the people in my life what was going on. When I told my family and friends, they were supportive and loved me until I got better. I started going to a specialist for anxiety disorders, practiced cognitive behavioral therapy and started changing what I didn't like in my life. I joined a recovery group at a church near my house and my life did a 180. I know how much of a skeptic I was of the old "Jesus healed me!" claim. Come on. But in my experience, it wasn't until I let go of this need to control my surroundings that I found purpose and meaning in my life. I asked for God to just grant me wisdom and peace and provide opportunities for me to be who I am supposed to be. It was so hard for me to do that. I am a perfectionist by nature and like to be in control. I like being able to take credit for the things I accomplish. At least I did until that point. That experience humbled me. And it shifted my life so quickly that before I knew it, literally a month or so after I was volunteering like I always said I would. I was making time for myself and the people I cared about. I realigned my priorities and it changed my entire life. Is my life perfect now? No. But I am in a better head space because of my willingness to let go of things that are out of my control. I am more happy in the years after that than I have ever been. I quit the partying thing and started spending my time doing things that are more fulfilling for me. I am a very thankful girl.

7. What is your favorite quote?

"Life is a daring adventure, or nothing." -Helen Keller

8. Fill in the blank. Life is..

Life is weird. I say that on pretty much a daily basis. Because it is. Life is weird. And messy. And unpredictable. It will knock you down, yes. But it will build you back up. Always. 

Life is insanely beautiful. 

Ashley volunteering in Huaymalai.

A little girl Ashley met. She is a Burmese refugee child living in a children's home along the Thailand border. 

Follow Ashley: | Instagram | Website | Facebook 

Stop by Emily's blog, Ember Grey, to share what you are grateful for today. 

1 comment:

  1. Talk about an inspiration!! I absolutely LOVE this series, Katie, you know that and being introduced to Ashley in this way was just beautiful. I look forward to getting to know her better, thank you for sharing!


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