The Bigger Picture

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It’s bath time and I’m carefully and strategically pouring the water on Wesley’s head to rinse out the shampoo–a task that for sensory reasons has been nearly impossible for the last 4 years. But recently he’s turned a corner.  And although he squirms and cringes and balls his hands into tight fists with his eyes squeezed shut, he does his best to sit still and let me wash his hair.

Me: Eyes up to the sky, and it won’t get in your eye.
I chant the song Ben invented to encourage Wesley to find some fun with this task he dreads most.
I gently pour the rubber ducky bucket over his hair while shielding his eyes from the water.
Wes: Mommy, I’m the bravest boy in the whole world.
He says after I pour the last bit of water.
He smiles his infamous gap toothed smile and I can’t help but beam back at him.
Me: Yes you are honey.

It’s not said with attitude or arrogance.
He doesn’t yet understand those traits.
It’s said with conviction.
Because he has been told by someone he loves, and he believes them.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last 4.5 years of parenting, it’s that this is my job–to champion for my children.  To fill them with love and  hope and confidence. To make sure that when they hear beautiful things about themselves, they believe them–so that when the ugliness in this world tries to crush them, they have the strength to see the truth in their beauty.3-park day with spidey

I used to talk about specific obstacles of parenting a lot in this space.
And then, one day I read some advice:
Be careful sharing something with the world that you haven’t already worked through yourself.

That advice resonated with me hard.
Too hard in fact.

I created this blog as a safe place for me to work through these life lessons, as a place to share the milestones and meltdowns in the journey of motherhood. But after over analyzing this advice I became scared. Scared that if I continued to share my journey before I crossed the finish line, it might alter my course.

I had been noticing this fear cause a change in my writing for quite some time. A part of me had started to hold back some of my more true thoughts and emotions to avoid the opinions of those who find it easy to see the worst in people.  I was letting the “negative nellies” get to me. I was letting them have a say in the way I chose to express myself.  I was allowing my fear of their judgment to silence me from sharing my truths. And when I read the above advice, I found the perfect excuse to shut off–to protect myself from vulnerability.

Suddenly I wasn’t allowing myself to share some of those more personal trials in my life.
Suddenly it was becoming too real. Too raw.
And because I was maybe a little bit broken, I knew I couldn’t work through those trials in a space that may not embrace me. So I stayed quiet.  I stopped writing about those more real parts of life and I blamed it on writers block.

I started to think that maybe this season had passed for me.  Maybe it was time to close this chapter.  I’ve mentioned to you before that I even dedicated an entire afternoon to writing my farewell post.  But I could find little truth behind any of the reasons I was giving for stepping away from blogging–so I didn’t click publish and instead I started to fill this space with things that “interested” me rather than things that “fulfilled” me.  I stopped growing here. And when we stop growing we lose our passion.

I spent months, almost a year in fact, sitting down at the computer trying to find new things to write about.  Things others couldn’t use against me. That others couldn’t use to question my intentions and abilities as a mother, as a woman, as a wife, as a friend. Things that were “safe” from judgment or misinterpretation.

As the days turned into months, and after MUCH self reflection, I eventually realized this had to be bigger than your classic case of writers block–this was fear.  Fear my words wouldn’t be profound enough. Fear I didn’t have a story to offer that hadn’t already been told. Fear of being boring.

But you see, I learned the hard way that fear is a self fulfilling prophecy. Because once you begin to fear something, it almost always inevitably occurs. I was so afraid of over-sharing, of making myself vulnerable to those who wouldn’t try to understand me, that I didn’t share at all. That I made myself boring–the very thing that I feared most.

Lesson learned: We can’t be authentically motivated by fear.
While fear may force us into action, it does not motivate us towards progress–towards peace.
This weekend my friend Lisa said something that stuck: We have to see the bigger picture. And then we have to find a way.
The bigger picture means finding the strength to push through the ugliness and see the beauty in the truth of our purpose.
The bigger picture is knowing that we have succeeded if even one life has breathed easier because of something we created.
The bigger picture is silencing fear and allowing faith to determine our course.
The bigger picture involves twists and turns, and forks in the road and the path least traveled.
The bigger picture means realizing your purpose and finding a way there, even amidst the opposition.

2-Collages1I have a quote doodled in my scriptures that reads:
I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it.
And this is worth it.  Sharing my truth and my experiences and my life lessons is worth it, if even one life has breathed easier as a result.  I can’t expect my story to resonate with everyone. I can only be honest with myself. So I choose progress, not fear. I choose kindness and compassion. I choose sharing and connecting. I choose vulnerability.

1-Short Hair Curling DIY

 

Ashley Stock
I'm Ashley. Sometimes I craft, occasionally I cook, everyday I write, and I'm always Momma. This is my blog. I keep it real while still seeing the rainbows and butterflies in all of life's lessons.
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock
Ashley Stock

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Comments

  1. So good in so many ways. Glad to see you have found your way out of it – I struggle with the same issues all the time as a writer and fellow blogger, what to share when and how. But share we must – negative nellies or not! ;)

  2. Ashley- Want you to know that I adore your blog and all that you share with readers!! I found your blog through my friend Lindsay at Lee la la. I can only aspire to be like you chicks, always so creative, honest, and real. It takes serious guts to put your life out there for everyone to see. Keep doing what you’re doing, your family is so sweet and I truly enjoy each and every post!!! :)

  3. Ashley, my darling. I adore you. I adore your words of truth. I stopped blogging for the exact same reasons a few years ago. I blamed it on being busy, but I feared being vulnerable with the world. Like everyone would see that I wasn’t perfect. (Which is silly because no one is perfect!) I’ve started to dip my toes in again and it feels great! thank you for your honesty! And I get so excited wen a post from you pops up in my feed!

  4. Thank you for choosing to be vulnerable with us. I started reading your blog 2.5 years ago when I became a SAHM. I’ve noticed that lately your blog entries were much less personal…more about things and products as opposed to your journey as a mom, wife, crafter, expert-blogger, marketing guru :) You are one of the few bloggers that I follow, and I’m glad that you are back :)

  5. I am new to your blog and I’m loving it. I appreciate your perspective and your interests that bounce around a bit and yes, reflect my life as well. I have a little girl who’s almost four and she too has sensory issues. The way you described your bath time ritual resembles mine ….”look up to the stars” as she covers her eyes with a washcloth. Congratulations on your little guy’s recent triumph. There will be so many more to come!
    Cheers!

  6. You are truly an amazing mother and lady. I wish we lived closer, so I could meet you in person. I love the blogging world because I have connected with so many people through blog posts and social media. And, you are definitely one that I follow through several different social media outlets.

    I have followed your blog since I started mine in 2011 and love every single thing about it. I have still not gotten used to the negative nellies that linger around blogs. Sometimes, I think people search for the negative in everything and then, think it is their responsibility to push that negativity off on others. I read your blog for the real stuff. I want to hear your true feelings, emotions, meltdowns, happy times, and all the in between moments of being a mom. Keep on keeping it real, girl! XOXO – Kristin

  7. I loved reading this post. This quote is excellent and so so right: “If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last 4.5 years of parenting, it’s that this is my job–to champion for my children. To fill them with love and hope and confidence. To make sure that when they hear beautiful things about themselves, they believe them–so that when the ugliness in this world tries to crush them, they have the strength to see the truth in their beauty.”
    Thanks!
    Best regards from Barcelona,
    Marta

  8. Bravo!!!!!!!! Vulnerability is BEAUTIFUL! Just like you!

  9. Beautiful sentiments beautifully written. You are a pretty great lady my dear. In the last 9 months I have realized just how scary and wonderful motherhood is, how you always feel like you might be doing something entirely right or entirely wrong, how you hope to give your perfect little babe everything they need to become the healthiest and happiest version of themselves. I appreciate your strength in sharing all of these real moments, the really struggles, and the real imperfections that exist in this journey. Love you friend, glad to see you got through your writer’s block!

  10. So beautiful and I am glad you aren’t letting the fear win anymore. I think we totally should share along the way, even if we don’t know it all (as we never will) as that is real and that is life and someday we may look back and realize we were wrong, but we admit it, take it for what it is- reality and a chance to grow- and move forward.
    There will always be haters, there will always be insecurities but that is real and that is what makes this life so interesting. It is the ones who you will touch and who will be inspired from you that make it wonderful and all worth it.
    It was so wonderful seeing you this weekend.

  11. Kristen says:

    It makes me sad that you akmost walked away. I adore you, your stories, your kids, your insight… I am a very private person so I undersrand your vulnerability but commend your bravery. You’re wonderful… And youre doing it all right because youre being the best Mom that you know how to be. Keep going! ;)

  12. YOU’RE BACK!!!! I have missed your authentic voice, Ashley.

  13. I LOVE this. You write in such a beautiful way, and you touched on some things that I feel from time to time when I blog. Thank you for sharing your heart! And just so you know, I would be so sad if you stepped away from blogging. I have learned so much from you. :)

  14. that is one adorable little boy!

  15. Shannon says:

    “The bigger picture is silencing fear and allowing faith to determine our course.”

    This simple phrase brought me to tears. It will always be my toughest battle.

    Never doubt your ability to enrich lives. You do it every day.

  16. You go girl!

  17. I sincerely hope you never retire from blogging. You are the owner of my very favorite blog ever :) In fact, since the demise of Google Reader, I now follow zero blogs, but have yours bookmarked at the top of my Mac as one of the webpages I look at daily.
    I cried a little bit reading your bit about Wesley in the bath, because my little Carter who is now 8, went through the same thing with all of his sensory issues. He is so great in the bath now, and can even wash and rinse his hair by himself without completely losing his crap, but today had a birthday party after school, and came home crying because “his friends were being mean”, when in reality, he was just super-overstimulated from the crazy boy party and couldn’t deal anymore.
    Being a Mommy is tough, and I hope you realize that you’re a very inspiring person, a great Mommy, and an amazing writer, no matter what all those Negative-Nellies have to say :)

  18. My dad used to say (he was quoting FDR) – “the only thing to fear is fear itself”. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Awesome post. I have thought so much about vulnerability in the last couple of years and how it allows us to truly connect with others in the way we were meant to. Sometimes we feel like real strength means not having weakness when I think it actually means having the courage to recognize and admit our weakness. Honestly and sincerity is so beautiful and those who find fault with it are usually in a pretty dark place themselves – trying to convince themselves that rudeness is strength.

    And on a side note, your boys are just SO handsome.

  20. Such a beautiful post, Ashley. Thanks for sharing your vulnerability. It creates a safe space for everyone.

  21. I couldn’t agree more. What the world needs now, is more authenticity, more examples of real and honest living and sharing, it helps us all feel less alone. You are doing this so beautifully my friend.

  22. I have been following you for a couple of years now. I am glad that you chose to not listen to those negative people and start to write about things that matter most to you. I love how you write about things that are affecting you personally. It makes it easy to relate to you! My son who is almost 5 has trouble with sensory processing. It took a while for him to tolerate pouring water over his head, too! My eyes tear up over the simple things like drinking from a straw for the first time a few weeks ago with water!!! He NEVER drinks water, only milk. Correction: white milk. It’s frustrating seeing other kids doing “normal” things or difficult to be judged by other people (including family!) because they don’t “get it” because he looks fine (in their eyes I am spoiling him or letting him get what he wants). I have to constantly remind myself that my little man is doing great and we celebrate all those little baby steps he is taking to tolerate his hypersensitivity! Sorry for the novel!

  23. Caitlin says:

    I’ve been away from your blog for a while…busy with the kiddos. But something has been weighing on my shoulders the past couple of days that I need to deal with. I needed to read this and so glad that I did. What I need to deal with is going to be difficult but after reading your post I am more prepared to do it anyway.

    Keep writing Ashley. You make a difference. It IS worth it.

  24. Hi Ashley,
    One of the first blogs I read of yours the quality that drew me to follow you was your honesty. Your take on life, love and family is beautiful, real, comforting and inspiring. I have missed that of late.
    You are fab! Don’t let the turkeys get you down. ;-)

  25. I’m so glad you were able to get past your “writer’s block” and continue to be real on your blog. I really think that all of us bloggers go through this phase. I go through it on a weekly basis and others nip it in the bud and go for it.
    I discovered your blog a couple of years ago and instantly though it was charming, sweet, pretty and you were someone I could see myself being friends with.
    I wanted to create such a community on my own blog, but fear of judgement is always in my mind. My baby boy was born almost 10 months ago and I have written one post since then. I’ve been telling myself I’ve been too busy (which is true!), but I know it has to do with fear of how my words, pictures, experiences will be viewed by others.
    Reading your post helped me breathe just a little easier :) I’m looking forward to writing again.
    Thanks!!
    And welcome back ;)

  26. Holly K says:

    I love your blog, it takes me back to a precious time when my three boys were growing up, like yours. Thank you for sharing your truth!

  27. I for one am thankful that you didn’t hit publish. Your writing, your honesty and experiences that you share hit home to some, inspire others and in a way makes some people like me hopeful that I can be so fortunate to have the beautiful family you have. Your words, even when you are writing about challenging times or struggles you face make you human. Make you just like me and the person next to me. You are who you are because of these struggles – embrace the imperfection and realize what a profound difference your blog has on so many. I just listened to a commencement speech that somewhat speaks to your fear. I think you may enjoy hearing it: http://blogs.militarytimes.com/scoopdeck/2014/05/19/top-seals-life-advice-make-your-bed/

  28. glad you are back. I thought you might be like some of the other blogs that have just disappeared. what a really emotional entry and one to help all of us really THINK with our hearts and minds

  29. Reading this post today, made me feel that fear is everywhere and that i have to learn to overpass this feeling in order to pursue my passion. Today Ashley your words and quotes gave me strength to give my 100 % everyday, to do what I want and believe in. Thank you. Don’t overthink your post, I found your blog like a year ago and I just really like everything about it.
    Keep it up. Your words inspire and helps other women confirm that everyone has the same feelings once in a while in this Journey :)

  30. I appreciate you always being aunthentically you. (Is that a word?) I have never found any of your posts boring. But I will admit that these are my fav. You take the words right out of my heart. It was just what I needed to hear right now. I am a Mom of 2 littles too, and its hard, but always worth it. I am always excited to see what you post next, or hear about your newest adventure, or see the latest recipe, or craft, and I always enjoy reading about your journey as a Momma. I have cooked some of your recipes, and done some of the crafts you have posted. My most favorite being the fabric garlic that now hangs over our bed. I made a pink one for my baby girl and attached her name in those white wooden block letters from Michaels, it hangs above her crib. You have given me so many great ideas, and a fresh perspective. You have helped me to be better, just by being you. Thank you for that. Keep being you. Keep being awesome.

    xoxo, Misty

  31. Shirley says:

    I thought you were going to quit, so happy you won’t. I look forward to your post. I love when you talk and show pictures of the boys and family get togethers. Don’t stop as we enjoy everything. I am 71 and I look at your boys and think I could pretend that they are my great grandsons. (LOL).

    Belive me there will be tuff times but that is life. You seem to be a strong lady (with the help of that cute husband) and you both will get through those tuff times and always ask God for help.

    God Bless

  32. Desiree says:

    I love reading your blog and I am so happy you are fighting the tough time. It will be worth it. Keep being you!

  33. Wendy+Orme says:

    Welcome back! I’ve really missed reading about your “real” life…you are so cute!

  34. Sandy T says:

    I really enjoy your blog! Thank you for keeping it real. I only wish there was a filter where all the negative comments would just go away and never sadden our existence. I mean really, what good do they do?

  35. Meghann T says:

    I love your blog! I stumbled upon it back in November, through a post on Pinterest. After reading through your posts (for hours and hours and then a few more hours lol) I thought “hey maybe I could do this too!” I have a blog… but I haven’t posted any thing yet and I think it’s because of fear. After reading this post I am getting closer to getting over the fear and just start writing. I love your stories and that you are so honest. I always get SO excited when you have a new blog post. Someone commented earlier and said “you take the words right out of my heart.” I agree 100%!! Your writing is amazing and you are awesome. Can’t wait to read more!

  36. Ashley, keep doing what you do! As someone who is about to become a mommy for the first time myself, I find a lot of inspiration and great advice on your blog. So please don’t let others bring you down, you are helping more of us than you realize! Keep up the great work :)

  37. Kristine says:

    We are total strangers, but you need to know that your blog helped me out of a very dark time in my life. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I imagined what that life would look like… I imagined a tiny baby who laughed, and smiled, and cuddled, and nursed happily. I dreamed about having a child who looked at me like I hung the moon, and surely I would feel the same way about him. But when that baby was born, my whole world was shattered as I realized the baby I imagined was not remotely like the baby I had. Everything about my son has been a serious struggle, and we continue to struggle even though he’s 2 now! At a time when I desperately needed to see evidence that other mommies were just barely surviving like me, social media showed me examples of happy mommies with happy babies. I could hardly take it. I felt so alone. Looking for anyone- anyone at all- who I could relate to, I stumbled across some of your posts about sweet Wesley and the difficulties you faced with him. Just reading your posts literally made me feel like I wasn’t alone- there was someone else in the world who was going through my mothering journey, too. I’m positive you didn’t write those specific posts with me in mind, but please know, you saved me from a horrible pain of loneliness I was feeling in my heart. Thank you for choosing to be vulnerable…it makes all the difference in the world!

  38. Sweet Ashley…I’ve only commented a few times, but know that your words help me be a better mama and a better person every day! You are such an inspiration to me, I only wish we could be friends as I have two children almost the same ages as yours. Keep on smilin’ and following your path where ever it may lead you. I think all our paths are like the roads in a Dr. Seuss book; they go up, they go down and all around. But just as the characters in his stories…keep that smile on your face as you walk YOUR path.
    Best wishes,
    Kelly :)

  39. I think it is rediculous that there are people who honestly think they can tell other people how to live and what to do as if they are dieties themselves. If you are following the Spirit, you have no judgment to fear. I think people who are not happy with themselves are the ones going out of their way to nit pick in everybody else’s lives.

  40. I think this is spot on. You are doing amazing things Ashley. Keep it up and keep your eye on the ‘right’ things!
    xoxo

  41. I just found your blog.

    That’s my favorite quote of all time from the scriptures. “I never said it would be easy…..”

    I still. struggle with baths / showers with my 7.5 year old. I’m so happy for you that you had a breakthrough with your son. One of these days……

    I’m glad you’re sharing the not-safe-stories.

  42. I follow and look forward to your posts because of you sharing your heart. I heard something again the other day and I’m sorry I don’t have the exact source but it said, “people throw rocks at the things that shine” there will always be opinions. Don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t love you or love what you do. Me, I love it! And look forward to hearing what you feel because I usually feel the same way!

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