Sun in the Night: The Poems of Art Poems & Assemblage

Sun in the Night by Ashlee Craft - Cover

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This book is a volume containing all the poems from the first three volumes of Art Poems & the first 13 issues of Ashlee Craft / Assemblage. A book filled just with the poetry, in case poetry is your main priority & you just want to read them.

Poems “Breezy Summer Hill” through “Yellow Jazz” are from Art Poems, Volume 1. Poems “Bricks” through “Wish Upon a Star” are from Art Poems, Volume 2. Poems “Vivid Life” through “& I Embrace the Changes” are from Art Poems – Volume 3. Poems “Relieved Dream” through “You Never Owned Me” are from Assemblage, Issue 1. Poems “Seven Things You Need to Know” through “…YOU DON’T KNOW ME” are from Issue 2. Poems “I Don’t Care” through “Authenticity” are from Issue 3. Poems “I was so innocent” through “You Cared About Me” are from Issue 4. Poem “we danced in the rain” is from Issue 5. Poems “Stay” through “You Cared About Me II” are from Issue 6. Poems “she liked to battle her demons in the dark” through “I Knew Then I Belonged There” are from Issue 7. Poems “You Thought You Had Me” through “beautiful” are from Issue 8. Poems “my name” through “after the storm” are from Issue 9. Poems “Souvenirs” through “fledglings” are from Issue 10. Poem “Friend…” is from Issue 11. Poems “WAKE UP” & “people (there) actually seem to enjoy helping me” are from Issue 12. Poems “if it were that way” & “respected, at last, at once” are from Issue 13.

In total, this book contains 140 poems.

Breezy Summer Hill

wind blowing onwards ever onwards gently pushing soft fluffy clouds into view the breeze is slightly cool in contrast with the warm summer sun / the beginning of summer / rays of sunlight occasionally peeking thru the air amongst the clouds providing hint of light / a summer storm is blowing in rain / rain that will allow the fragrant flowers to bloom / smell the impending petrichor in the distance growing ever nearer / feel the heartbeat of the earth

I lie on my back on the hill staring up at the vast expanse of bluish gray sky / the wind blows fresh upon my face caressing my hair & causing the grass around me to sway & dance / rustle rustle rustling sweet music / & the meaning of it all changes in repetition / please stay, perfect feelings that swim so gracefully around me & fill my soul

in the distance I can smell the fresh air approaching / I smell nature all around me / & the smell & sound of the ocean at the bottom of the hill summer serenade in perfect peace / waves crashing in the stormy sea in preparation for the onslaught of pelting rain / I know I must return home soon but for now I want to remain on this hill / remain here & just breathe & be & feel alive / there is magic upon this hill I feel it deep down inside of me / & despite the impending storm I feel like everything will be perfectly okay / I want to remain here as the rain approaches / I want to feel alive

in the midst of the ongoing breeze, a blue flower twirls in freedom bending to the beat of the wind / it dances & sways in perfect freedom remaining out there to gather up the nurturing rain / always changing & growing & becoming more radiant / & I watch hope blossom

Clovers

green green green all around in the patterned hallways / an ongoing onomatopoeia of sounds & colors & sights & senses ignited by it all

a waterfall of green & circular stones in the empty sky floating by tent ground

a maze labyrinth never-ending always something to discover if you look a little closer

a square picture frame wet by watercolors about to be placed into the art museum in the street

a seashell lying on the shore having journeyed many miles along ocean currents now waiting on the sand for someone to find it pick it up & bring it home

behind it all a green grassy meadow turf flowing onwards & onwards

the sun is just rising above the hill spreading fingers of gold out into the sky & alighting the new world

the patterns of nature pine trees & feathers & rows of spiny scales & interlocking plates of stone

& a flower blooming upside down just to feel the rays of sun on its petals & yet in this different approach, succeeding

ombre stripes stipulated by four-dimensional allusions, the safe warmth of home’s hearth & the cozy rug beneath my feet

piano key pattern with yin yang showing the balance of productivity & relaxation

yet outside my window mountain tops loom & yet I will climb them soon I am finally ready

suddenly I look down & on the ground beneath my feet

& there, I find a lucky four-leafed clover

Coasting Along

walking along on the shore with you / our hands entwined / it is fall & cold wind nips at our skin & the leaves in the forest are falling from their branches & littering the ground / & yet on the shore, everything looks the same as it always does

we snuggle up next to each other / my hands are chilly but if I couldn’t feel the cold wind biting at my skin I could imagine it being June here rather than November / but I don’t mind / the fall wind just makes everything cozier & the sea more vast in its endlessness & infinity

see the contrast of the wind pelting but not harming or changing the solid & stoic stony arches that rest on the shore ahead of us / see the contrast between the dry powder sand & the chilly sparkling water / see the stolid distance horizon that we approach but it only grows further from us / see the contrast between the cold empty shore & the warmth of our love

& yet amongst the chilly wind & unending shoreline & unchanging beach, I find something strange & fleeting & beautiful / it is the slow yet gentle passing of time, & the warm beauty of you next to me, grinning at me & reminding me that in a few minutes we should head back & get some hot cocoa to warm us again / I say wait a minute I want to walk under the stony arches / you nod & hand in hand we run there together

we approach the stone arches & suddenly we see that it’s not all unchanging shorelines / the arches grow closer & suddenly we are near enough to feel their enormity / we walk under them slowly, my heart beating a little quicker with awe at the majesty of the arches / infinite & everlasting / always there like a beacon lighthouse upon the stormy sea / it’s not much but it’s something to hold onto / my hand feels the cold stone strength of them in one hand & the soft passionate warmth of your hand in my other / & as we pass through the stone arches & turn to head back home, we’re grinning at each other / & suddenly something occurs to me / maybe the shore isn’t always what it seems / maybe it changes / maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye

Glow of Hope

the street is dark & hope is bleak, dirty street walls caged souls can’t speak

remnants of garbage & things left behind, to rot in the sewers of the streets where dreams die

the lonely girl walking along, the night is still & silent, no one knows she’s out here alone

but it was essential she came here when she did, she could not wait any longer

the streets were empty & almost silent

except for forlorn cries in the distance, yet she could not stop for anything not even fear

her feet padding along on dark pavement heart pounding

heading towards the old forgotten lifeless brick buildings

finally she reaches the place where she is drawn to (even though she doesn’t understand why)

the place where the idea first came to her, sparkling

& she stood in between the brown bricks & cold cement, arms upraised into the air

& her hands clasping the dreams she holds deep within

holding them up to the darkened sky & waiting for something to happen

the night is still & silent & frightening & cold she’s never felt more alone in her life

yet nothing changes & the dreams remain in the dark (fear creeping in fear creeping in)

suddenly she breathes in deeply the approaching air

& at that moment her dreams are ignited by an ember of Hope

she stands in awe looking at the dreams in her hands

they are glowing the whole alley is glowing she is glowing glowing

the dreams once drying & dying & forsaken & forgotten

alight in the night illuminating her soul & her dreams are breathing again

& there is nothing more beautiful than dreams coming back to life stronger than ever before

dreams illuminated by the undying light of Hope

& suddenly she knows that everything is going to be okay

Misty Mountain Fog

cacophonous enrapture upon sea after sea

drifting colors on a palette, brush sweeping strokes across the creational landscape

the city streets & the countryside

do not have to remain cold & bleak with their winter monochromatic paleness

the walls & brick buildings & sleepless apartment buildings

empty emotionless persuasions & repercussions reprinted on false paper & held onto by plastic ideals

they do not have to remain unmoved & emotionless with steely-smiles frightening in the dark

they do not have to remain as empty representations of what really matters

the mountains do not have to stretch up into the sky

with their many insurmountable challenges looming above you

too high for your hands to ever reach

too difficult for your soul to be able to stand, strong enough to beat you

you can climb that mountain you are stronger than you think you are

explorational flurries & swirls twirling & dancing as the paint falls from the sky

you can do this you can make it

you feel weak & insignificant & afraid but soon you’ll find that light inside you

& the wind is suddenly the canvas

painting the land with the colors of life

you take that first step up the mountainside

& begin the grandest journey ever lived

this is the story of your life from now on

Spring Breeze

it would be a crime to dispute the ebullient valor in technicolor parade

gauzy leaves & floral petals, ethereal & evocative in their gentility

reverberating in rippling ruffles of breezes

& incandescent filaments in their radiant newborn resonances

rhapsodies in repeating waning charred chords on stone

printed on old newsprint blowing in the zephyr

expectations of joyous possibilities you see them all laid out in front of you

letting go of the mistakes of the past even though you mourn for what was lost & what cannot be rewritten

but rewriting the story even better than before when presented with the second chance finding even better ways of making words come alive

a chrysalis consisting of a glass bubble forever suspended upon the fragile flower seeds beneath the snowy ground

sandy soil the warmth of the sun slowly seeping down into the rain-soaked soils

& the flowers waiting waiting waiting gently until the urge to rise above fills them & they push up through the soil & towards the sunlight which they crave

& they will emerge into the air on a bright spring day as the snow is melting

& painting the landscape with their colors of red blue purple

they will become the future

in the garden of hope

where every month is a year, and every year, a decade

where time stands still but progresses all the same

& where anything is possible

Sun in the Night

sun in the night looming in the eclipse above antique Victorian houses rectitude shining over the old metal trellis grating / piano keys inside the wind tunnel spinning in unison with the breeze / tents & campfires just being started in empty fields near rivers & clouds flying on past by

trees in a river of multicolored paint spreading the waters & dividing the tides into what is free & what is owned, reverberating rectification a baseball thrown on a warm summer day in the retro neighborhood where parents & children throw the baseball around to each other as the sun is setting behind the clouds / but also in the clouds forming the shape of someone with their mouth in a snarl looking towards the flaming forest fire & the pools of sorrow strewn into the ground / a lone figure emerging from the darkness crows surrounding it & flying up cawing & crying out into the darkness yet the fear dissipates illuminated by the sunrise / brick walls in the morning light / oceans in the rain

(I will try again tomorrow)

& yet despite fear’s flurries cascading around me I feel their strength collapse with each breath I take & every strong & unstoppable step forward suddenly seeing that things that used to break me now become the stairs I ascend upon into the next day brilliant & breathing & alive / marveling at the perfection & miracle of my existence, & of the existence of everyone & everything else in this world / I am not afraid anymore

& yet above all of this stands the sun, glowing & yellow, rebelling against the oppressive darkness / & the sun is always overhead in the sky even when the night is dark & we cannot see it

Sunray Meadow

warm warm sunrays & meadow of life

river running thru it to nurture it & the gentle swaying grasses

warmth bright light free from sorrow

but not free from difficulty (that would be boring)

(to live in a place where everything was too simple

& there was never anything to contemplate or figure out or solve or change or do anything else about)

sure, I don’t want an enormously difficult life

but if everything was too happy & carefree & easy

I would be very bored with it all

thankfully in this meadow there is contrast

the contrast between the day & the night

yes, the long smiling summer days

& the rainy cold ice winters & dark nights of the soul

there is contrast & conflict & that makes it all interesting

mediated by the flow of tears of sorrow & tears of joy

running thru the land & the cracks in the drying soil & nurturing the very things

the very things

that make us human

Sunshine Mountain

harpsichord difficulty diffusion renegade

pianos in the streets with keys left unplayed

to gather the threads left strewn & strayed

the swirl in the red-orange wing from the desert

sunbeams flowing downwards over hills of stone

from stained glass window mountains the light shone

remembrances I can only remember alone

clouds of fiery colors collecting in the sky

standing on top of the mountain peak’s majesty

to think you say emotions are such travesty

but in this struggling strife we find unique diversity

& in reflections in stained glass mountains

pale blue clouds floating on a languid summer day

purple mist in the distance is coming this way

I thought all this time I wanted you to stay

but in the end it was all just a memory of the mountains

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The Ashlee Craft Show – Episode 011 – Poetry – “Four Roads to Freedom”

The Ashlee Craft Show — Episode 011 — Poetry — “Four Roads to Freedom”

Episode 11 of Ashlee Craft’s webseries, The Ashlee Craft Show

In Episode 011 of The Ashlee Craft Show, Ashlee reads the titular first poem from her third poetry book, “Four Roads to Freedom”, which she published in 2012. The poem is about four pathways people can go down in life — the fancy-looking pathway that’s unfulfilling, the sad dark pathway, the repetitive mundane pathway, & the brilliantly beautiful authentic pathway.

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Four Roads to Freedom

four roads to freedom in the noonday sun I sat on the plank by the fountain waters a plane flew overhead & I felt the sun seeping into my skin into my soul / a dove flew overhead carrying an olive branch united with both hands & under a sky painted blue by the ringing of freedom & the music from all around – standing underneath overhangs / trying to find the road upon which my destiny lies / trying to find out where I’m meant to be

but sometimes getting caught in chains as I walk down the roads trying to find out who I am / chains made from the dreams I hold deep in my heart but sometimes I fear my competency to make them come true / chains made from my tears & confusion & phases I went thru / chains made from each step upon mistaken roads I walked / chains made from each contemplative hour I clocked / chains made from searching for my true home / chains made from thinking that I was alone / chains made from trying to please everyone / chains made from chains made from the lies I told myself / chains made from wondering whether my dreams would come true / chains made from my desperation to find you / but I have broken free from these chains

but how was I to know upon which road destiny lies / there’s so many roads I’ve seen & walked down & so many times I’ve turned around only to find that I was on the right road all along / the only map is my soul & sometimes I end up lost & stranded with no place to go

some roads shine with the reflective sparkles of diamonds & gold yellow bricks covering the ground & veils of lace terraces of silk & boughs of silver / you hear the sound of glasses clinking & parties & the overwhelming music of money jingling in pockets down these roads / but be warned / this is a road of plastic lies & a road of everything that isn’t true / if you walk too long down these roads, your heart & soul will be sucked out of you & you’ll become just another puppet / a snake dressed in money’s expensive costume / you’ll gain the world but lose your soul / you’ll be imbued with disillusionment as to what life really is about / you’ll forget who you are / don’t try to be somebody you’re not

other roads are dark & sad & dingy & dangerous / the trees brush against your shoulders as you walk thru them & you can hardly see in the darkness / you can’t see your own hand in front of your face & there’s tricks & twists & turns ready to pull you in & imprison you for eternity / you hear the sounds of approaching animals, yet are blind to whatever else may be out there / as you wander thru the darkness, its so easy to get lost & it takes the brightest light to be able to see anything / pits of quicksand & poisonous animals on the ground & so many turning paths you could get lost upon if you let yourself remain on that path very long / if you go down such a road, tie a rope to your waist to lead you back home / don’t get lost in the darkness

some roads are blocked & just go around in circles & never lead you anywhere but based on how fast & far you’re walking you think you’re going somewhere / but you’re not / look up & notice the canyon you’ve worn in the dirt walking around the same circle year after year / notice how with each repetitive rotation you just dig yourself deeper & deeper into the sand / nothing ever changes along this road except time & the travelers are afraid of change so they stay in the same place doing the same things but still thinking something will change / but change doesn’t come unless you change / some people make things happen & some people wait for someday / but today is the day for your dreams to come true / don’t close your mind to the possibilities

but there are some roads that are happy & beautiful & wonderful / when you walk on them, it just feels right & somehow you know that this is the right road for you to be on / on this road you’re never alone & never afraid because you see that everything you need is in your soul / flowers & trees sway in the breeze & when you follow these paths, you find your dreams / cool brooks edge the paths & birds sing in rhythm with your footsteps & flowers dance / the sun shines brightly & warmly caresses your face & you sleep safe under the bright cozy light of the moon under the twinkling of stars & the music of crickets & frogs / you’re guided by the music of life singing within your soul / it’s on this road that you discover yourself / it is the road of destiny / don’t hesitate to live the life of your dreams

open your mind & your heart & dare to dream / search within & you’ll find all the answers you need to know / be yourself & believe in your dreams / don’t be afraid to take that leap & learn to fly on your way down / live & laugh & love / know that anything is possible /

believe in yourself

& someday, you’ll find your own road to freedom

Herkimer & The Bully

Herkimer & The Bully - Herkimer the Mouse by Roger Miller, Dr. Patricia Miller, & Ashlee Craft

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I am so excited to announce my newest book, Herkimer & the Bully!

Now, here’s the special thing about this book. Out of all the books I’ve published, this is the first one where I only contributed, & wasn’t actually the one to come up with the content!

When I was growing up, my grandfather on my mom’s side would always tell me these stories when he’d come over. The stories were about a brave, kind, heroic mouse named Herkimer. Herkimer was just a regular mouse, but yet because he was so devoted to being kind & so pure of heart, he ended up doing a lot of really good things in his community. I remember several of the stories he told me about Herkimer.

Fast-forward to a year or so ago. I found this brown construction-paper-covered handmade, hand-sewn bound book in my garage. When I opened it, I saw it was a Herkimer story, written down. The book also had some sketches my grandma had done to go along with the story.

The archivist inside me got excited. As I looked through the book, it became apparent to me that this was something people should see. This was the kind of book kids nowadays should read. Something about how kindness made an ordinary mouse a hero in his community.

I got involved with a variety of other projects, & although I frequently thought about the Herkimer story, I never did anything with it. Finally, this summer I decided it was time to make it happen. My grandma’s 91st birthday was at the end of August, & I had a great idea for a gift for her.

I was going to surprise her by taking the book her & my grandfather had worked on together, compiling it into a book, & publishing that book.

Herkimer the Mouse by Ashlee Craft

I began working on it as soon as I could. After deciding how I wanted the illustrations to look, I decided to preserve the style & art she’d done. I re-did the illustrations from her sketches by tracing over them. In the original, they’d been outlined in Crayola-looking thin-point markers, so that’s what I did. I added a few additional illustrations that I thought the book would benefit from, copying the style & feel of my grandma’s illustrations in my own.

Then, I transcribed the story, scanned the illustrations, & compiled the book. I even copied the essence of my grandma’s cover with the art on it, & purposely designed it to look kind of vintage. I was vaguely inspired by the look of the old Word Bird series of covers.

The book was done. I hit publish, & when it was available, bought a copy.

My family & I went to visit my grandma on the weekend before her birthday. When it was time for presents, my sister gave her a beautiful hand-made card, & my mom presented her with the purple (my grandma’s favorite color) macrame hanging plant holder my mom had made.

My grandma was thrilled when I gave her the Herkimer book, compiled & published & brought into the present. She was so excited & happy & grateful. She couldn’t believe I’d actually made it into a book & published it, & she got her name on the front. I felt really good about giving her that gift. I know it meant a lot to her, especially for her to be credited for Art Design when her whole life has always revolved around art.

Herkimer & the Bully is the first book in the Herkimer series! I plan on writing more books in the series based on the concept & stories my grandfather told me & the art my grandmother did for the original.

It is so exciting to me to have published something like this, & to contribute to & bring to life/light someone else’s book. Also exciting is the fact that this is the first time at my company Freedom Meadow Media that we’ve published something written by someone other than myself.

Here’s to many more!

Herkimer & The Bully - Herkimer the Mouse by Ashlee Craft

by Roger Miller, Art Concept by Dr. Patricia Miller, Illustrated by Ashlee Craft

Herkimer lives in Mouseville. He is a well-mannered, friendly little mouse. He helps his parents out around the house and also does what he can to help the other mice in Mouseville. One day on the way to school, he sees a bully being mean to one of his friends, & he comes up with a plan to teach the bully to be nicer.

Release Date // August 20, 2017
Paperback 28 Pages
Genre // Children’s Fiction
Themes // Mice, Virtues

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The Ashlee Craft Show – Episode 010 – Books – “What Happens When You Choose to Live Authentically”

In the tenth episode of The Ashlee Craft Show, Ashlee reads her article, “This is What Happens When You Choose to Live Life Authentically”, which was originally p& discusses authenticity & loving yourself.

:: Read the original article here ::

The Ashlee Craft Show – Episode 008 – Motivation – “Consistency is More Important Than Perfection”

Episode 008 of the webseries The Ashlee Craft Show.

Episode 008 of The Ashlee Craft Show is something for your Motivation Monday. In this episode, Ashlee reads her article, “Here’s Why Consistency Is Much More Important Than Perfection”, originally published on www.thoughtcatalog.com. As she reads the article, she gives additional commentary & insights into consistency, perfection, & how to use consistency to overcome the excuses you tell yourself.

You can read the original article here.

My Interview With Captain Wendy Longman of Windsong Charters

If you think you’ve “made it” you’re not working hard enough!
My Interview with Wendy Longman of Windsong Charters in New Port Richey, FL

I’m THRILLED to announce a new & fabulous feature I am adding to Ashlee Craft’s World: interviews with people that I find inspiring or intriguing. This is the very first interview EVER. I think this will be an awesome feature, lots of fun, & hopefully will provide you with a ton of value. I’m looking forward to being able to interview awesome people because everybody knows a lot of things that I don’t know. I’m also really looking forward to the opportunity to learn as much as I can about business & living an awesome life through the interviews I conduct.

Today, I am interviewing Captain Wendy Longman, the owner of Windsong Charters, a local charter boat company located in New Port Richey, FL. I met Wendy at the wonderful Sip restaurant in downtown New Port Richey while I was acting in Leading Ladies. One of my co-stars was asking her about what she did for a living, & she said she owned a charter boat company & got to sail boats FOR HER JOB. Doesn’t that sound awesome & like it would be a lot of fun? She sounded like she really enjoyed what she did for a living & I found that totally inspiring.

I love when I meet people who really love what they’re doing, especially if what they’re doing is an opportunity they created for themselves. So, when I came up with the idea of interviewing people & then sharing it on my blog, Wendy was honestly one of the first people I thought of. I reached out to her, we emailed back & forth a bit, & here we are with this awesome first interview for my blog.


Tell us a little bit about Windsong Charters & what they offer.
Windsong Charters & Boat Rentals offers private sailing charters, private fishing charters, pontoon boat rentals (drive yourself or hire a captain), and paddle craft rentals (kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards). We also do weddings, memorial services / ash scatterings, island BBQ parties on Anclote Key (bachelor, bachelorette, sweet 16, anniversary, quinceanera, etc), corporate team building…anything you can do on land, we make it more fun on the water or an island.

How did you end up starting your business? Was there a specific moment that made you say, “I need to start a boat charter company”?
LOL! There was no “A-HA” moment. Windsong actually started by accident drinking cheap beers and smoking cheaper cigars sitting on the island back in 2002. We met a retired aerospace engineer from San Diego and he wanted to start a “little retirement business”. He was an accomplished sailor and my husband and I were currently in marketing working for Corporate America. Hubby came up with the name and the deal was, we do the marketing (website, sales, collateral) and he taught us how to sail.

When the 2004 hurricanes played havoc with the area, he decided to move back to San Diego as he wasn’t overly fond of Florida. We had since bought our own personal sailboat and he asked if we could take over the existing bookings. I basically said sign everything over to me…state, county and city licensing. We had our personal sailboat commercially documented by the US Coast Guard, obtained our US Coast Guard Captain’s Licenses, and the rest is history!

If I were just a normal person with a normal job, there is no way I could do the philanthropic works within the community that Windsong allows me to do. - Captain Wendy Longman of Windsong Charters

What is your favorite part about owning your business?
Giving back to the community. My business allows me to give free kayak rentals to PTAs, churches, and other organizations for fundraising. It allows me to give away Sunset Sailing Cruises and Wine Tasting Cruises to Rotary Clubs and other charitable organizations for their fundraising galas and live auctions. If I were just a normal person with a normal job, there is no way I could do the philanthropic works within the community that Windsong allows me to do. Windsong is also a bit seasonal, so in those slower times it allows me to travel (I am a serious travel junkie – working simply allows me to support my habit!!! LOL).

What kinds of things did you do initially to attract customers? Was there a specific thing you did that really seemed to help?

Initially the website was the major source of getting the word out. Once I took over the company to run it full time I joined the Chamber of Commerce and did a LOT of networking. People do business with people they know and trust. A lot of our business is repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals. Of course, the website is where we get the majority of guests.

How did you get to where you are today? Walk us through the steps you took & tell us what happened.
It’s been a crazy wave of high and low tides! Where we are today is the result of a TON of literal blood, sweat, and tears. I could have never done this without my best friend and partner in life, my husband Bruce. We both had full time jobs when I took the company over and both of us were travelling a lot for work. Once the business made about 1/2 of what I was making in Corporate America, I left my job to market and build Windsong full time. So to go step-by-step over that past 15 years will take more space than I’m allotted in this blog. LOL.

How did it feel when you started getting more customers? Was there a moment when you realized you’d “made it” & that your business was working out the way you hoped it would?
Growing Pains in any company can make or break you. It’s a delicate balance of who to hire and when without sacrificing quality and ability to pay your mortgage. We hired some fantastic people who are still with Windsong today, to people that are sitting in jail today. Owning your own business is the hardest you will ever work in your life – EVER!!! As far as “Made it” – am I there yet?

If you think you’ve “made it” you’re not working hard enough! - Captain Wendy Longman of Windsong Charters in New Port Richey, FL
If you think you’ve “made it” you’re not working hard enough! My idea of have I “made it” is ever changing and evolving. As long as I am able to give back to the community, serve the community, provide the BEST DAY EVER to my guests, and be a source of employment for the community, then yes…I’ve made it

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?
Not to hire the people that screwed me. But hey, if I didn’t have the opportunity to learn THAT critical lesson, Windsong might be in a very different place today. Things happen for a reason. These life lessons, whether business or personal, cannot be rushed or avoided. Life lessons are exactly that – you learn the lesson and move forward being better and striving for the best. Or you wallow and never grow.

Things happen for a reason. These life lessons, whether business or personal, cannot be rushed or avoided. Life lessons are exactly that – you learn the lesson and move forward being better and striving for the best. Or you wallow and never grow. - Captain Wendy Longman of Windsong Charters in New Port Richey, FL
Who or what are some of your biggest influences? Tell us about some of the people, books/movies/songs, or events that have inspired you the most & why.
My mom. She’s my rock. She’s my inspiration. She’s my everything. She is truly the strongest person I know (three bouts of cancer and chemo in 15 years). She’s a fighter. She’s Polly-Anna. She’s AWESOME SAUCE!!! I didn’t spend a lot of time in Corporate America, but the few “real” jobs I had, all three of my bosses made me the person I am today. They were wonderfully fair and insightful.

What’s something interesting about boats that most people don’t know?
Boats are a total pain in the ass!

Bring
Out
Another
Thousand $$$$

What is the best advice you have ever received?
From my Gramma: “You’ll know better when you’re 25”. At the tender age of 24 years and 364 days old, I wrote her a long letter (remember that ancient art of a piece of paper and a pen? Then you fold the papers that you’ve spent hours pouring your soul upon, stuff it in and envelope and mail it?) Anyhoo…I wrote her this long 10-page letter explaining how I know better and all the things I’ve learned.

I didn’t hear back from her for weeks and all of a sudden there is a postcard in the mail. No “Dear Wendy”, no “Love, Gram”, just the following written in RED PEN (like when I was in school!!!)…”You’ll know better when you’re 30”. OMG! I FAILED! WTH??!!!!

When I gave her eulogy I relayed this story. She wanted me to be ME first. Get my career and my life in order FIRST and NEVER make any major life decisions until you are at least 25. I relay this story to the youngsters I hire, friends’ kids, and to the youth I mentor in the community. You really WILL know better when you’re 25 and you’ll know even MORE when you’re 30. Never sacrifice YOU!

What is the best advice you have ever received? From my Gramma: "You’ll know better when you’re 25”. At the tender age of 24 years and 364 days old, I wrote her this long 10-page letter explaining how I know better and all the things I’ve learned. I didn’t hear back from her for weeks and all of a sudden there is a postcard in the mail. No “Dear Wendy”, no “Love, Gram”, just the following written in RED PEN (like when I was in school!!!)..."You’ll know better when you’re 30”. OMG! I FAILED! WTH??!!!! When I gave her eulogy I relayed this story. She wanted me to be ME first. Get my career and my life in order FIRST and NEVER make any major life decisions until you are at least 25. I relay this story to the youngsters I hire, friends' kids, and to the youth I mentor in the community. You really WILL know better when you're 25 and you’ll know even MORE when you’re 30. Never sacrifice YOU! - Captain Wendy Longman of Windsong Charters in New Port Richey, FL

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Does any aspect of it relate to what you do now?
I wanted to be an interpreter for the UN. By the time I graduated with my first degree, I spoke five languages. The UN thing never happened because I didn’t have the courtesy to actually listen to my Gramma about the 25-year-old thing. However, Windsong hosts guests from all over the world and my language skills have definitely come in handy.

I bet you’ve got a great story about something that happened while you were chartering a boat. What’s one of your favorite stories?
You really want to hear about being on a 44′ sailboat in the BVI (British Virgin Islands) during Category I Hurricane Olga? That sucked. The worst part was not being able to drink a beer because the barometric pressure and the winds just schlurped the beer up my nose. Most annoying. In all reality, it was one of the best learning experience of my life. (Wo)Man vs Mother Nature and the delicate dance of respecting her. Every day was trying to save the vessel. If you don’t have a vessel, you don’t have a safe haven. When my guests come in from a 15-minute Florida “micro storm” and complain about the “major hurricane” they experienced…I feel bad laughing at them, but they really have no clue.

Is there a previous job or business you’ve had that prepared you or inspired you to be where you are today?
My entire 49 years of life from shoveling sidewalks at 8 years old for $2 to getting fired from my first “real” adult job after college has been the greatest ride of life.

What was your biggest challenge or setback, & how did you handle it? How did it help make you/your business stronger & more resilient?
The “’Great’ Recession” of 2007 – 2009 was a challenge to say the least. Groupon contacted Windsong and we opened the Tampa market for 1/2 off Kayaks rentals. That helped get Windsong a lot of exposure. Because so many people lost their boats due to repo, we were able to gain that market. The pontoon boat rental company at our marina was closing their doors and gave me their blessings to “have at it in the rental biz”. I went into my nest egg, bought four pontoon boats, and started the rental side of the business. Many people back then could not afford a $500 boat payment on top of gas and insurance, but they could get a group of friends together, split the costs, and still afford a great day on the water.

Then we had the BP oil spill of 2010. It NEVER effected Tampa, but because of the insane media, the world was told we were a total loss in Tampa. We lost a lot of business. We tightened our bootstraps and learned to operate very, very lean. No one was laid off, but a lot of sacrifices were made by all.

Why do you do what you do?
To pay the mortgage. 😉

What drives you to be successful & keeps you interested in what you do?
My staff. If they don’t have jobs, they don’t pay their rent. I feel a sense of duty and responsibility to them. It also doesn’t help I’ve been an overachiever my whole life.

Never regret the things you’ve done...only the things you haven’t. I don’t want to live my life with should have’s, could have’s, and would have’s. - Captain Wendy Longman of Windsong Charters in New Port Richey, FL
What is your favorite quote & how does it relate to or inspire your approach to your business?
Never regret the things you’ve done…only the things you haven’t. I don’t want to live my life with should have’s, could have’s, and would have’s. There are a few of things we tried that failed miserably at Windsong (such as starting the Jet Ski Tours division). If we didn’t at least try – we wouldn’t have known it would be a failure and then we would have wondered and obsessed incessantly about the “What If’s”. By the way, it failed not because we suck, but because the insurance was so insanely cost prohibitive that it would have been fiscally irresponsible to move forward.

What advice would you give to someone someone who’s just getting started with their own business?
Be prepared for 80+ hour work weeks, no time off, no vacation, and no life for the first 5 years. Have a great attorney and an even better CPA. Pinot Grigio will become your best friend.

What’s next for your business? What do you hope to accomplish with it over the next few years?
The sky is the limit! Personally, I would like to take a small step back from the day-to-day operations at the marina so I can team with County and State Tourism officials to re-open scalloping in this county for sustainable recreational harvesting. This would be a significant tourism boost and create very much needed jobs in this area. I would also like to focus more on events, corporate team building, and increase our number of weddings. The past couple of years have been training really amazing Manager Trainees to help with the goals of expansion.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
When you’re in Florida, come float our boat! 😃

You can learn more about Windsong Charters at:
http://www.windsongcharters.com/index.html

1-727-859-0213
5015 U.S. Highway 19, New Port Richey, FL 34652
Open 9am – 5pm.

The Ashlee Craft Show – Episode 006 – Books – 101 Ways to Love Yourself Introduction

Authenticity is hard. Happiness is hard. But when you start loving yourself, that’s when these things become easier.

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START.

Happiness is hard. Authenticity is hard. I know this very, very well.

I’m not going to give you some fluffy sermon about how if you just take a bubble bath, smile three times a day at yourself in the mirror, & think happy thoughts constantly that your life will magically be better. These things might help you, but they also might not.

You’re probably reading this book because your life isn’t totally, 100% pure awesomeness. If it is, all the power to you! But it probably isn’t. You probably don’t feel like you love yourself as much as you could, or you feel depressed, or you really just feel you’re not living up to your potential. The best part is, whether you can believe this yet or not — you have all the power in the world to change & improve your life.

Hating yourself is boring. Feeling ugly & unloved is boring. Living someone else’s plans for you is boring. Being depressed & feeling hopeless about your future is boring.

Those feelings are all completely valid. They’re also sadly common. But when you really think about it, those aren’t very interesting things to feel. Break them down, & all those feelings relate to sadness. Society has romanticized the idea of sadness. It’s made personal sorrow seem alluring & mysterious & beautiful. Like that without it, you won’t be an interesting person for people to know. Like you will be shallow & one-sided if you’re always happy & you feel good about yourself. Like your art won’t be as good if you don’t have all this sadness as your muse.

Those feelings aren’t making your life any better. They’re not serving you in any way. They’re not even true.

You deserve better than that. Your body is made up of the remnants of stars that were born & died long ago. You are literally made of stardust. You can do anything you want to. Stars didn’t die so that you could loathe yourself & live an unspectacular existence. You can have better than that. You were born to live an awesome life. It’s your duty to yourself to pursue that, as vibrantly & lovingly as you can.

Why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose, & everything to gain.

Happiness is thrilling. Love is beautiful. Self-acceptance is rebellious. Success is triumphant. Hope is alluring. Peace of mind is interesting. Boldness is adventurous. Resilience & determination are courageous. Living a life you’ve created is compelling.

Sometimes, I ask myself why I should bother loving myself. Sometimes, the whole thing seems impossible, & even pointless. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I deserve it.

Why should you love yourself?

Because you’re vast & brilliant & awesome & kind & smart & filled with potential. Because you might as well. Because the only way you’re ever going to even KNOW what you’re capable of is if you try. Fear of missing out on what you could become should be the biggest FOMO of all.

You don’t want to be a product of a society which profits off promoting self-loathing & insecurity. You don’t just want to be another face in a crowd of mediocrity. You want more for yourself, even if you can’t admit that to yourself yet & don’t think you deserve it.

What do you have to lose in learning to love yourself? Or in trying to be happy, & starting to live a life that genuinely makes you feel good? There is nothing to lose.

Change is hard. Taking all the bullshit & the bad feelings you’ve been accumulating & shoving them out the door with their cardboard boxes of baggage isn’t easy. In fact, changing & creating the kind of life you always hoped you might be able to live & becoming the person you hoped you could become might just be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.

There will be kicking & screaming & tears. There might even be days when you don’t even think you can get out of bed, much less move forward.

But the thing is, you will. You will get up. You will open the curtains, & the sunlight will stream in again. And you will feel better. You will make it through this.

On the other side of the dark stormy seas you’ve been sailing, there will be sunlight, & warmth, & a life better than you ever hoped you could have.

To be completely honest, I’m not there yet. But I’m on my way. I make my progress in great leaps & strides. Sometimes, I fall down. Sometimes I stumble & slide back on the hill I’m climbing. Then I get back up & brush the sand off my clothes, & I keep climbing. Someday, not long from now, I will get to where I’m heading. And then I will find somewhere else to travel to.

I am on my way.

So are you.

Change is hard. But the ability to adapt is the thing which separates the winners from the losers. You are trying to make your life better. That puts you in the category of the winners, right now. You’re strong enough, & smart enough, & determined enough to win.

Think about this. You have made it through everything that’s happened to you in your life so far. You have made it. If you can do that, you can do this. You can do anything.

You can love yourself. You can feel better. You can be happy.

You can start living any super-awesome amazing life of your choosing.

And you can start today. Right now.

The key to having all this starts when you start loving yourself. Self-love is the backbone to everything else available to you. It’s the ship that you’re sailing on, & the wind that fills your sails & your lungs. It’s the star you see up ahead in the dark of night. It’s the start of everything else. The first brick on the yellow brick road.

When you start loving yourself, everything else falls into place. You become stronger & more resilient. You start respecting yourself & knowing your worth & only accepting the things you deserve. You start realizing that you can create whatever life you want for yourself, & start empowering yourself to go out there, & go get it.

Happiness is hard. Authenticity is hard.

But when you start loving yourself, that’s when these things become easy.

Here’s how…

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The Ashlee Craft Show – Episode 007 – Poetry – “Fight, Or Not”

In Episode 007 of The Ashlee Craft Show, Ashlee reads one of the poems from her 2015 poetry book, Panorama Novelty.

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POEM

I thought the answer was the fight.

pushing anyone who got in my way out of the way, kicking through doors, fighting & working & fighting as damn hard as I could to make something give

beating against the wall, fists pounding on wood, trying to find that one weak spot

“let go of it all” I told myself “become a machine. that is what they want you to be. that is how you win”

become ruthless. become inhuman. be a machine. be a machine. be invincible. coat yourself in iron armor. build a suit where nothing will ever hurt or touch or lovingly caress your skin. become unfeeling. be a machine. become what you do & not who you are. you must protect yourself. you must not let anyone get too close. you must not let anyone know the person you really are. you must protect yourself. stop feeling. fight. fight. fight. fight. fight, even if it makes you bitter, even if it makes you cynical. cut yourself off from feeling this way. cut yourself off.

yet there is a price to pay / you win the game, in some aspects, but you are left behind, the underdog, unfulfilled, unhappy, unseen, unknown, lost / lost / you will all the wars but lose all your soul / you become what they want you to be, but not what they need you to be / not what you need to be

because all along, the answer wasn’t less heart, but more / all along, the advice you needed wasn’t less soul, but more

& the fight doesn’t have to make you bitter

it doesn’t have to make you cynical

it doesn’t have to make you heartless

maybe you just need more heart, more soul / maybe you can only be strong if you know how to be vulnerable