I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression

I finally gathered the things I need in order to know how to thrive.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

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Originally published on The Ascent

I think I have finally cured my depression.

I have been depressed for ten years. And that is enough. And I think I’ve finally beat it.

Unlike other times I thought I had won, my healing was not due to willpower, or by forcing myself out of the darkness with willpower alone & convincing myself that I did indeed feel better.

Instead, everything changed because I changed my environment into one which allowed me to gather tools & learn how to use them & manipulate them into the things I needed to be. And most importantly, an environment that let me use them.

After almost a decade of being (never formally diagnosed, but I know how I’ve felt) clinically depressed, I finally feel like I’ve actually won. I’ve had my moments before of triumph, of discovering some secret that let me be happy for sometimes months at a time. But it was never like this before.

See, every time I felt “cured” before, I was always afraid that it was all in my head. That one day, the depression would come crashing back down on me. I never could believe that maybe I was actually cured. Because the other times, the feeling of “cured” had come about so suddenly that I usually couldn’t see a logical reason for why I felt that way. Not to say that those times of being cured didn’t mean anything, because they meant a great deal. It’s just that they couldn’t last because there was no concrete reason for WHY I felt cured.

And mostly it was because despite my “healing”, I was still the exact same person inside. I was still just a depressed person experiencing happiness for a while.

But this time, it’s different. And this time, I’m not afraid.

Because this time, my healing wasn’t this sudden miracle that happened out of the blue. My healing was a slow, deliberate process. It’s been a long time coming, but I feel like it finally might be here. And I feel like this time, it’s going to last.

Why?

I have finally learned the tools & put systems in place that are necessary to keep myself happy. I have built those tools & used those tools & figured out how to best make them work for me. I have molded those tools into systems & new actions & new ways of responding to life. I have built a solid foundation out of these tools. I have used these tools to become a different person.

This is why I believe my happiness foundation is stable now. It’s didn’t happen by magic; it happened by gathering & learning tools, & by using them.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

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Author & speaker Darren Hardy says that learning is the ability to produce a result. If you haven’t produced the desired result, you haven’t learned it yet.

Since January this year, I’ve been part of author Benjamin Hardy’s outstanding 52 Weeks of Momentum course/mentorship group. Thanks to being part of the group, I’ve read the most amazing combination of high-level books that I’ve read in any year, ever. My mind has linked together so many concepts between various books & I’ve had numerous breakthroughs that have utterly changed my life.

Benjamin Hardy’s newest, best-selling book is called Willpower Doesn’t Work. The book centers around the idea that rather than using willpower to try to change your life, you need to change your environment so that it causes you to naturally become the kind of person you need to be. Once you’re the person you need to BE, you can do what you need to DO so you can have what you want to HAVE.

But the biggest thing this course has done for me was totally reinvent my mindset in the best way possible. The books I’ve read throughout the course, plus Benjamin Hardy’s mentorship, the exceptional other members of the group, & the course content have taught me a whole new mindset, which I then applied to my life in brilliant ways. Brilliant, especially the ways I am finally understanding how to apply them to my life.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

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In the middle of June, I had a huge mindset shift. Everything slowly began to change. I can’t name a specific THING that changed it; the assemblage & combined influence of everything I was learning & experiencing & doing in all aspects of my life finally were mixing together in the perfect way.

And over the next two months, I made a lot of changes that shifted my mindset majorly. I started listening to podcasts & audiobooks in my car & at work whenever I could. I filled my mind with high-level stuff & surrounded myself with the environment & the people I needed to be around, to the best of my abilities. I committed to eating healthy & exercising. I committed to living a life that I loved. I started committing to caring for myself & my goals first, prioritizing them above the noise of the rest of the world. Because if I am not shining as bright as I can for myself, how am I supposed to be a light for others?

In the back of my mind, I guess I realized it. A lot of difficult things happened in the span of those two months, things that tested this new person I was becoming. But in the back of my mind, I still knew it was true.

I was slowly becoming less depressed. Slowly becoming deeply & unequivocally happy.

The sun rises slowly, & we still see darkness until we realize the sky has become light again. I didn’t usually realize how the depression was fading & happiness was becoming a more predominant emotion until I realized.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

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It turns out, the environment I most needed to change was the environment inside me. And there I was, slowly & quietly chipping away at the darkness which had held me back for so long. Slowly building a better foundation, brick by brick.

Then the breakthrough happened. And the foundation was suddenly recognizable as a foundation.

I was listening to the audiobook version of the excellent book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It’s one of the books we’re reading for the 52 Weeks of Momentum course.

And I heard this phrase:

[…] train the body to be the mind in order to live a predicable future based on a memory of a known past.”

And he talks about how when something happens & you feel a certain way, your body remembers the way it feels, it keeps firing those neurons together until they wire together. If they fire & wire together for long enough, eventually the emotion from that singular incident can end up becoming your personality.

That’s when I had my breakthrough.

All or at least most of my depression throughout the past decade most likely stemmed from my first bout of it that I experienced when I was 14.

At 14, the feelings of depression were new & interesting & mysterious. I reveled in them, wanted to explore them because I’d never quite felt that way before. I felt a sense of connection with others, even fictional characters, who felt that way. So feeling depressed became a way of feeling connected to something bigger & more interesting than myself.

And because that was my mindset, whenever something happened, I’d feel like it was a relevant time to feel depressed. Something along the lines of, “If I am a depressed person, this would be a time that I should feel depressed so I will look for those feelings of depression in this situation until I find them.” So I replayed the feelings in my mind, felt depressed, & did it all over again.

I’m not saying none of my depression would have happened if it wouldn’t have experienced that first episode & found it so interesting. I think it’s likely I still would have experienced depression from time to time naturally due to fluctuations in brain chemistry. And I’m not saying what worked for me will necessarily help you feel better. But I’m sharing this here because I hope it helps someone. Because it helped me. And I want you to know it DOES get better.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

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This cycle of feeling depressed & finding it interesting began to grow on its own. Out of my control. Then it wasn’t so interesting anymore. Then it was something I had to struggle through. Something I had to fight off ferociously so that it would never succeed in its desperate efforts to push my head under the water & keep it there. Sometimes, it took everything I had to just to push it away one more time. It would retreat for a while, but hours or days or months later, there it would be again. It became darker & harder to control as it grew.

The depression became a big part of my personality. It became an addiction, in a way. I almost felt incomplete without it.

I tried feeling better. I used all the willpower I could muster up. Tried to force myself out of it. Pulled myself up by my bootstraps, time & time again. Sometimes I felt “cured”. But like I said, I was still the same person inside. Still a depressed person deep down who was trying to be happy. I still didn’t have any foundation in place to make the good feelings stick around.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve really been trying. I’ve been learning. And I’ve been taking action on what I learned. But it was just over the past few weeks that it finally all clicked.

I Think I Have Finally Cured My Depression :: Ashlee Craft's World

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Admittedly, I was afraid to move on from depression. Terrified to let go of it actually. Because after having it for so long, I was terrified that if I moved on from the depressed feelings, I’d always feel like something was missing. That my art & my personality would be lame & one-note without it. That in the back of my mind, I would always be longing to feel those feelings again. Craving them.

But the quote from Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself not only showed me the cause of my often depression-based personality, but also why I was afraid of moving on from it.

A memory of the known past.

I was afraid to let myself be happy because I was so used to being depressed that a happy future was also an uncertain one. At least with my depression, I had its cold stale hand to hold, a familiarity I knew I could always return to. With depression, at least I knew what my future would feel like & how I would cope with it.

But once I realized both the cause of my depression & the reason it was terrifying to move away from it, it all became so flimsy, like a house of cards in the breeze.

And then all it became was something in my past. Not who I was anymore. Not who the future fated me to be.

I started being able to see myself as someone that a joyful, vibrant future was possible for, & I’ve never felt that so deeply before. I tear up a little bit as I write this, because five years ago, I never could have fathomed a future as full of possibility as the one I’m able to see now. Back then, it always seemed like all the future could hold was more darkness, more depression, & more emptiness. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with all of that, unrelenting, year after year. But now, I feel the deepest confidence & faith in myself that I not only will everything be okay, but I will too because I’ve become the kind of person now who will always find a way to thrive.

I am going to keep adding new tools to my toolbox. I will keep searching & seeking & exploring & finding new ones to add to it. Especially when it comes to something as important as mental health, it’s vital that you don’t become complacent. This is something I will always be tweaking & improving & discovering new things about. I recognize that being cured is still dependent on me building & maintaining the foundation I have built. But I know how.

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And I’m not saying that I will never feel down again. I assume that at some point, I will. It’s just that I will never let it become part of my personality EVER again.

Because now, I finally have a sign that I’m heading in the right direction.

I am filled with an expansive playfulness & enthusiasm towards life & towards the kind of future that I can not only build for myself, but use to light the way for others too.

I feel genuinely transformed. Instead of being world-wearied & fearful when I think of the future, I am filled with a deep, unrelenting confidence now. The confidence that whatever happens, I have the tools & know how to keep being the person who can handle it.

And I am exceptionally excited to see what comes next.

The Seven Levels of Why

The Seven Levels of Why :: www.ashleecraft.com

Why are you doing the thing you’re doing every day?

There are seven levels of “WHY”. If you keep asking yourself, you can get to the bottom of it & find out what REALLY is keeping you going.

I heard about this idea first while reading the article “How to Consistently Act From Your Deepest ‘Why’ and Optimize Your Time” by Benjamin Hardy. In it, he says,

“Think about what it is you want, and ask yourself this simple question:

What about ___________ is important to me?

Just answer the first thing that comes to mind.

Don’t over complicate it.

[…] It’s good to go at least 7-questions deep into this exercise.”

You start asking yourself “WHY?”. The first reason is probably some semi-B.S., superficial reason that’s visible immediately. It’s your initial knee-jerk reaction, which also might be a somewhat canned response.

I’m going to use my personal examples here because I know them the best obviously. But this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.

Why do we do the things we do?

What keeps you going? Why do you keep doing what you’re doing even when it really hurts? What separates the things that hurt but matter from the things that hurt but are bad?

So I went down the seven levels to find out my core reason.

Why did I want to be a millionaire? I asked myself.

Why was being a millionaire important to me?

MILLIONAIRE :: The Seven Levels of Why :: www.ashleecraft.com

So I could have financial freedom, of course. Plus all the things “financial freedom” encompassed.

Why was financial freedom important to me?

FINANCIAL FREEDOM :: The Seven Levels of Why :: www.ashleecraft.com

Because financial freedom would allow me to spend my time doing things that made me happy. It would give me the freedom to help others. So the obvious “freedom” was the answer.

Why was freedom important to me?

FREEDOM :: The Seven Levels of Why :: www.ashleecraft.com

Because freedom would allow me to maximize my happiness. It would allow me to make my life a perfect expression of happiness.

Why was happiness important to me?

HAPPINESS :: The Seven Levels of Why :: www.ashleecraft.com

This is when this questionnaire became a little more difficult. Why did I want happiness? I couldn’t put this one in a box so easily. My first reaction was, “Happiness is important because HAPPINESS is important.” I felt like I’d reached the end of the road. How could I go a level deeper?

But I knew there WERE more levels. “Happiness” was too easy of an answer. It wasn’t deep enough.

Okay.

So, why was happiness important to me?

SELF LOVE :: The Seven Levels of Why :: www.ashleecraft.com

I suddenly knew. A phrase I came up with months ago came to mind.

Because I know I cannot FULLY love myself until I’m living a life that makes me happy.

Aha! So there WAS an answer to this. But self-love was, in itself, a pretty good answer. Just like happiness had been. But, like happiness, there had to be a deeper answer.

Why was self-love important to me?

I DESERVE IT :: The Seven Levels of Why :: www.ashleecraft.com

Because I know I deserve to live my best life. Because it’s my purpose.

Six levels down.

& with sudden clarity, the answer to the seventh came so easily. It was an ineffable feeling of destiny, of KNOWING something without doubt. But put into words, it’s something like this.

Why was living my best life important to me?

WHO I AM :: The Seven Levels of Why :: www.ashleecraft.com

Because it’s WHO I AM. WHO I CAN BE.

My 2018 Goal List

My 2018 Goal List :: A photo by Gareth Harper. unsplash.com/photos/yACpBcInUos
2017 was definitely an outstanding year. I went on my Epic Florida Road Trip. I rode on a plane for the first time (to go to Houston to see Queen in concert). I saw a lot of amazing bands in concert. l produced a lot of creative work & added to my business. I released my first app, & I published 11 books.
But 2018 is going to be THAT MUCH MORE AMAZING.
Because 2017 gave me the tools & the confidence I need to level up even more this year. For me, the theme of 2018 is: “DO DIFFICULT THINGS WELL”. I really want to challenge myself & grow as a person, so I specifically designed these goals to do just that.
Here’s what I have planned for 2018:
  • Become a self-made millionaire. This is my top goal because it will help a lot of my other goals happen. I’m going out there to get the good things that I deserve. I do this because I love myself, & I also love a good challenge.
  • Start eating healthy consistently & exercising daily. Over the past year, I have IMPROVED, but I’m still way behind where I’d like to be as far as healthy habits. I know I could do better. I end up only eating 1-2 servings of vegetables a day. This is due to my “addiction” to processed sugar & non-vegetable foods. I also walk a bit each day, but I can be quite sedentary at times & don’t exercise the recommended 30 minutes a day. Sometimes, I also eat too much sugar. But I want to eat healthier, I know it will help me feel my best & have the most energy, so I’m going to do this.
  • Live with passion every day. Like Tony Robbins talks about. I’m going to make 2018 my happiest year yet. Making sure I’m living with passion & taking time for self-care are habits that will help me do this.
  • Publish more books. This year’s book list includes: my Epic Florida Road Trip book. A photography album of artistic photos of the Tampa Bay area. A seven-zine series of photos I took on my road trip. The second zine in my Flowers series of photography zines. A zine of botanical garden photos. Several poetry books. My essay book, Not a Dime a Dozen. A Tarot card dictionary. Several more books for my Wonderful Wildlife & 50 Adorable Facts animal series. The second book in the Summer Hayes series. More issues of Assemblage.
  • Release my third album of music. I released my second album, “confusion is over”, in 2015. I’ve done some cover songs, but I have not released any more albums or singles since then.
  • Get a pet tortoise & pet crested geckos. I’m currently prepping for a red foot tortoise hatchling right now & I’m doing a ton of research. Tortoises are fascinating & so sweet. I’m really looking forward to adding one to my critter family. Sometime later in the year, I plan on getting some baby crested geckos too.
  • Create & release my first Udemy course. I’m working on a course RIGHT NOW that’s based on my 101 Ways to Love Yourself course. I still have a pretty long way to go on it, but it’s going to be an amazing, comprehensive course. It will have more than 100 videos, many worksheets, podcast versions of each episode, & much more.
  • Go to A LOT more amazing concerts & other awesome places/events. I have some of these activities planned already. I’m making sure I always have something to look forward to doing. I learned in the past year that adding to my “experience library” is something that adds immense value to my life.
  • Release at least two more apps for iOS devices. Last year, I released my “Adorable Fall Stickers” app for iOS devices, & I have a few more apps in the works.
  • Travel to a state I’ve never been to, travel somewhere else in Florida, & travel to another country. This was on the list last year. I did go somewhere else in Florida & to another state, both of which were goals on the previous list. I’m refreshing this goal because I want to do the same thing this year but with different places.
  • Become a certified ethical hacker. Ethical hacking has always fascinated me. If nothing more it will help me educate myself about web security for my own benefit. I bought the Udemy course, & now I just have to DO THE COURSE.
  • Go on another road trip. An RV would be amazing to help me achieve my road trip goals. I would love the feeling of being able to have a mini-home I can take anywhere.
  • Buy an RV. An RV would be amazing to help me achieve my road trip goals, & I would love the feeling of being able to have a mini-home I can take anywhere.
  • Become a life coach. I love helping & coaching other people achieve their goals & live their best lives. I realized that last year, so becoming a life coach is definitely going to be something I pursue in 2018.
  • Direct, produce, write, film, & act in a full-length indie film. This was on last year’s list & I didn’t do it. Which means I HAVE to do it this year. I love film, I love acting, & I think it would be super-awesome to actually make my own film. I’ve completed four short films, but I’m taking the bull by the horns this time & making a feature-length film.
  • Expand my network & make genuine friends. Everybody can benefit from this, & it’s something I definitely need to do. It’s also outside of my current comfort zone, so you know what that means? I have to do it to grow.
  • Get all the domains I have purchased but never made websites out of made into websites & making money for me. I currently own 10 or 11 domains, & I’m only using three of them. I’ve owned some of the domains for years & still haven’t made them public. This is embarrassing. They’re sitting around costing me money & no one can see them. So VERY SOON, all these sites are going to be up & running, & I’m going to post links to them on this blog when I do!
  • Become a fashion designer & start selling my first original clothing design. I have some great designs that I will release over the next few months. I’m so excited about seeing them when they’re done. I’ll be even more thrilled to be able to wear them myself, & being able to share them with others.
  • Walk a marathon. Last year, I walked a 5k. I need to challenge myself physically. I don’t enjoy running, but I did want a goal that was out of my (current) league, so I chose this. I know it will require a lot of training, but I’m ready to train. This will also help me achieve my goal of making 2018 my healthiest year yet.
  • Launch several products that I have in the works. Many of these are things I’ve wanted to do for forever. It’s time I made them something you can buy!
  • Complete all the online courses I have purchased. I bought them, & like my domains, they can’t benefit me until I use them.
  • Read 75 books. In 2016, I read almost no books. In 2017, I read 57 books. My goal for 2018 is 75 books. Another stretch goal, but I’m going to do my best! Besides, for a book-lover like me, the idea of reading 75 books & gaining all that knowledge makes me drool.
  • Interview more people for my blog. I love doing this, & I have a few people slated for this right now. It’s so much fun, I love the value I’m able to provide whomever I’m interviewing, & I always learn a ton.
  • Grow my online store. I have so many products, product ideas, & new designs that I can’t wait to show you!
  • Become more of a minimalist. I made progress here in the last year (it was on the 2017 list too) but I have a lot more progress to make. To echo what I said in my 2017 blurb about it,

    “This means excluding things – physical things, mental things, wasted time, unhappiness – to make more room for the things that really do feel good. I’m not trying to have as few things as possible, but as many things that make me happy with as few unnecessary things as possible. I really like this quote from this article I was reading earlier, titled Like Henry David Thoreau, but with Wi-Fi. ‘Everything in my life become my favorite thing.’ I want to live my life like that. “

  • Become a contributor to the Entrepreneur Magazine website. They’re one of my favorite websites. It would be an honor to be considered “good enough” to be a contributor. This will require me to improve & hone my writing skills, so it’s a good challenge.
  • Partner up with some of my favorite brands & companies in a way which benefits us both. With these new products & new ideas that I will launch in 2018, I’m going to add a LOT of value to the brands I partner up with.
You can stay updated on these projects & follow me on my favorite platforms with these links:

I’m Going to Become a Millionaire in 2018

Just one favor from you: hold me accountable.

I’m going to become a millionaire in 2018.

That’s my big goal for the upcoming year.

I don’t know how yet, but I have some exciting ideas. But the how is not the important thing just yet.

The important thing is that I’ve decided.

Declaring this goal publicly is equally important. Being publicly held accountable for ACHIEVING the goal you set is supposed to be really helpful. Public accountability makes things happen.

So I need your help, just one tiny favor from you:

HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE.

That way if I wimp out & DON’T do this, I’ll know that other people were counting on me to hustle & make my goals happen. I’ll feel embarrassed that I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. I’ll be disappointed. I hate disappointing myself, but when it’s only you you’re answering to, it’s easy to say, “Well, I guess it just wasn’t the right time yet.” When really, you could have done it if you had a reason to.

If you knew you HAD to. If you burnt all your boats & went for it.

By saying this to you, I’m making it so I HAVE to do this.

Not that I don’t have very compelling personal reasons “why” even without anyone knowing about this. I do know my “why”. My “why” is because being a millionaire would allow me to live my best life, provide for my family beyond their wildest dreams, help elevate & empower & promote other artists/writers/musicians/awesome people, & to do my part to take care of the world. They deserve me living my best life. I deserve me living my best life. I feel like achieving that level of success so I can do those things is my duty. Because I can’t lift up other people as much as I’d like to if I’m in the pit too.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE ALIVE, YOU MIGHT AS WELL TRY TO BE ALL YOU CAN.

I know I deserve to live my best life, because I’ve always, ever since I was a kid, known I was destined to. I’ve definitely had my dark times & doubts, but they never were able to kill that underlying thread, the message deeply entwined in who I am that one day, I AM going to make it big.

When things have been dark, that knowledge that I’m meant for something greater — the greatest happiness, the greatest success, recognition, wealth, & intentional & good-feeling fame — is what’s allowed me to rise back into the light. I have always been heading towards these things.

I hold myself accountable to a very high level. But even I sometimes wimp out & play small & think, “maybe I don’t deserve this”. Or I stop when I don’t know how to move forward & let myself get distracted by other things. Or I’m afraid of succeeding. Afraid I won’t like it once I get there. & then I don’t make it happen. I don’t try push enough. Then at the end of the year, I look back with some disappointment that I didn’t do what I TOLD MYSELF I was going to do.

& because I’m getting very tired of falling back on playing small, on not LETTING myself have the money & the success & the HAPPINESS that feel far away even though I know they’re totally within my reach, I’m trying something new this year.

That’s why I need your help.

I just read the amazing “ What Happens When You Take Full Responsibility For Your Life” article here on Medium from one of my favorite writers, Benjamin P. Hardy. The article is about taking radical responsibility for your life & actually COMMITTING to making your dreams happen. Unconditionally & unquestionably RESOLVING to achieve your goals. I highly recommend you read it if you want to make 2018 your best year EVER.

In his article, he challenged the reader to make a big decision & then make sure everyone else knows about your decision so they can hold you accountable. The reason it encourages success is because people like being seen as consistent with what others believe they are. You like seeing YOURSELF as being consistent with what you believe you are. This is one way you “burn your boats”.

Your mind will almost literally move mountains to keep up with what it believes its standards are.

This is why people who don’t believe they deserve something will go to great lengths to sabotage any sort of success. They can’t believe they deserve it, so they don’t let themselves have it. Even if having it would be way easier than resisting it.

This is also why people who believe in their own success will overcome even the most crushing of setbacks & achieve outstanding things. People can do miraculous things when they really believe they can do something.

People also don’t like letting other people down, because disappointing others & not living up to their expectations doesn’t feel good. Especially if they expect something great from you & if they genuinely want something for you which is in your actual best interest.

So, if I’m not a millionaire by the end of 2018, I’m going to feel disappointed because I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. I’m not going to feel like I was consistent with what was expected of me. With what I TOLD YOU I was going to do.

But I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. I believe this IS possible for me. Even if I can’t see exactly how yet. But I do have a lot of options, a lot of ways it could pan out.

Sure, it’s an ambitious goal. It’s by far my most ambitious yearly goal yet.

But I’m no stranger to making big goals. At the beginning of this year, I made some pretty big plans about traveling by myself for the first time, & they weren’t even very specific goals. ALSO, a lot of the goals I set at the beginning of the year were NOT things I actually expected I would accomplish this year. I made them with good intentions, but I also put them on there like, “Well, I hope this happens this year (but deep down inside it’s probably not going to)”.

& I still made them happen. Because somewhere along the line, I started genuinely believing they WERE possible.

That’s how 2017 ended up being the most freaking amazing year of my life. I went on an epic road trip around Florida by myself (my first trip away from home), traveled from Tampa to Houston to see Queen (one of my all-time favorite bands) in concert, saw a lot of my other favorite bands in concert, ran my first 5K, published numerous books, acted in a play, started investing in the stock market even though I knew nothing about it when I started, grew my online business, started a podcast, bought my absolute DREAM guitar (Fender Telecaster Thinline 72′ Series), & started my own weekly show on YouTube. I also really figured out what I wanted & who I wanted to be.

An amazing freaking year. & yet at the beginning of the year I assumed the year would be cool but also kind of lame, & that I wouldn’t really move forward much. That it would be just like every other year before it.

But I was wrong. I got out there & made shit happen.

& I learned who I want to become in 2018. What I want. Another piece of the map showing me the way to my best life. The best life that I am actively creating for myself.

It’s time I took radical responsibility for my life. It’s time I stopped playing small & pretending I can’t have or don’t deserve the things that make me light up.

So I’m sending my declaration out there loud & clear. I’m ready. Let’s make this happen.

By the end of 2018, I will be a millionaire. & it’s going to feel really good, in all aspects.

So, will you help me?

Will you hold me accountable?

& I’ll hold you accountable too. Let me know in the comments what you’re going to create for yourself in 2018.

We’ll watch those boats burn together. Then, with no more excuses stopping us from becoming our best selves, we’ll watch 2018 become the most amazing year of our lives yet.

 —

Thank you so much for reading this! If you could click on the APPLAUSE button on the left, that would be fantastic! Hope you have a really great day.

There are Only 30 Days Left in the Year. What Are You Going to Do About It?

You still have time, but you have to go NOW.

There are 30 Days Left in the Year. What Are You Going to Do About It?
There are only 30 days left in 2017.
A lot of days, if you use them well. Only a few if you waste them.

But it’s your choice what you make of the last month of the year.

Not that 30 days ISN’T a pretty long time. It’s about 8.33% of a year. 1/12. That’s a pretty big chunk.
If you use it right. If you think about it the right way. You can change your life in a month.
It isn’t the time to start “winding down”. It isn’t the time to say, “The year’s almost over. Not much more I can do.”
No.
It’s time to put the pedal to the metal. It’s time to start cranking out the projects you wanted to work on. It’s time to check more things off your to-do list. Time to review your goals for the year & ask, “What else can I get done this year?”. Your last chance to accomplish the things in 2017 that you planned on doing. Your last chance to become a little more of the person you wanted to be this year.
Anything you wanted to do this year that you haven’t done yet needs to be done NOW.
You wanted to start a podcast? GO. Do the first episode. NOW. Get whatever microphone you can get your hands on, even if it’s just your phone.
You wanted to get healthier? Get up from wherever you’re sitting & take a walk. Eat a piece of fruit for desert instead of cake.
You wanted to write a novel? You might not have enough time to finish it. But you can start. & that will be what matters, that you finally started.
You wanted to be happier? What are you waiting for? It’ll never be the right time to finally let yourself be happy. You’ll always have some excuse why you can’t be happy. Let yourself be happy now.

The year is almost over.

But you still have time.

Time to read a few more books. Time to relax more. Time to be happy. Time to work on your business. Time to be healthier. Time to record that song. Time to start your blog. Time to learn to code. Time to put more money in your savings. Time to be a better friend. Time to reinvent yourself, again.
The door is closing on 2017. Ask yourself, “What would be the perfect finale to make 2017 the most amazing year of my life?”. What would be the icing on the cake? Do that. It’s your power to make 2017 go out with triumph. To slide up to the finish line as the winner, yelling, “I did it! I did it! I won!”. To accomplish more than you thought you could. To expand your limits. To set yourself up for success. To set yourself free. To build momentum.
2018 is going to be amazing, I just know it. But you have to be ready to make it so.
DO IT NOW.
There are only 30 days left in the year.
You might not have everything you need.
But you have enough to get started.
Who do you want to be?
& more importantly:

What are you going to do about it?

23: A MANIFESTO

Girl With Neon

  1. I am much better-equipped to handle life now than I was a year ago. I remind myself of all the ways I am different now, & how this year, I think I can make it.
  2. A year ago I was terrified to even be in the play. I desperately wanted to break out but I was also desperately scared to. I kept deliberating over whether I should or shouldn’t. The whole process terrified me. Now look at me. Going on road trips around the entire state of Florida all by myself. Traveling around the country to go to meaningful concerts. Taking actual strides – big, massive actions – towards those goals I have so desperately loved.
  3. When the Universe speaks to you, you should listen.
  4. I refuse to let others make me feel small. For too long I have shrunk in their presence, packaging myself for them as something easily understood & easily pigeonholed. For much too long I have let them make me feel like I am inferior, in a variety of ways. But I am not easily packaged up, not easily defined, not easily categorized or classified or described. The world wants me to be just like them. THEY want me to be just like them. Therefore, my greatest rebellion is to be  authentically myself & to reinvent myself continually.
  5. “The strong give up & move on, while the weak, the weak give up & stay…”
  6. What do they have that you don’t have? What separates the successful from the unsuccessful? You are made of the same stuff as they are; you have the potential to stand beside them as their equal, just as they did when they were starting to stand next to their heroes as equals. Run to it. You have just as much right to be there as they do. You have just as much right to be there as they do.
  7. Theme of this year :: make life my playground, & love every minute of it. Create that which I know is mine. It is mine.
  8. The sublime moment when you were driving home in the gorgeous afternoon with the perfect lighting & that song was playing. You had never heard it before, but it struck you as being the most beautiful song you had ever heard. When you heard it on the stage, you knew it was.
  9. You listened to the same album three times in the same week. Twice in the same day (funny of him to mention that song). Each time, it became more beautiful. This is where it’s at. You whispered the very first time, & you were right.
  10. “I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them.”It doesn’t matter what they think of me. I do not have to answer to them. A number of them will never understand me, & this is something wear proudly every day. I am glad that I am not like them. I am glad that I am not so simplistic & easily understood that they are able to falsely believe I am the same as they are. Alien. Different. Beautiful & strange. Alive. I am completely myself. I will know when I have found my people, because they will understand me without trying to categorize me.
  11. MASSIVE ACTION.
  12. I am the same age now as you were when you first started. This is incredibly inspiring.
  13. I think of all the things that I am creating for myself. All that I have accomplished in a year & all that I will accomplish. How I not only survived, but thrived. Even when I could have I did not break down & I did not give up. How I fought, tooth & nail, for what was mine. Even when it was unpleasant. I did it. All the projects I am working on are exciting to me. The books I have a deep need to write. I am going to be on that show. The music that flows from me. The art that I see in my mind. Training for that race, & the things I will learn there. Investing, in all aspects. Branching out & connecting with people instead of continuing to hide. Finally getting my shit together. All the places I will go. I know now I have the power to make all of this happen for myself. I am determined as hell, & I will make this happen.
  14. I am wealthier now than those who try to bring me down will ever be.
  15. It didn’t have as much value to me as everyone told me it was going to have. This wasn’t to say it lacked value – the value remained in knowing, & in being able to put a name to experiences. It also contained value in the simple subtraction of being able to tell the difference between the things I really liked & wanted, & the things I felt like I was supposed to enjoy but found unnecessary. The value was in knowing myself a little more.
  16. the difference between what I want to do & should be doing / weekends, weekends spent playing / the breeze & sunlight reminded me of when I was a child / I remembered lying under the umbrella on the deck, recording my own radio show with a tape recorder / it was an illusion, the way they told me being grown up had to hurt / they told me happiness was all a scam / all around me I saw adults falling into the depths of the rat race, the rat race they’d created, thought it was the way it had to be / but they were just trying to sell escapes & they were jealous of your dreams / the sign on the wall read happiness was a journey, happiness is an adventure / I thought about how the magic had been missing for quite some time / I needed to carve out a safe space for it to live & make sure I cherished it & welcomed it / whatever it takes, I’ll keep that magic aliveStop Waiting for the Other Shoe to DropThere is No Other Shoe
  17. STOP WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP. THERE IS NO OTHER SHOE.
  18. The first time, as they were leaving, I whispered into the deep encompassing warm noise, “thank you, thank you, thank you.” I thanked them specifically. I thanked them for what they had given me. I thanked them for being there. A few days later, I knew I had to go there, if only to thank them. To thank them for helping me through one of the toughest periods of my life. Their art saved me, & it was only right that I had the chance to thank them. To show them I am no longer what I was. To love them, & to feel the love. That type of gratitude can be life-changing. Thank you thank you thank you. I made this happen by myself, for myself.
  19. The real value of it wasn’t even in doing it, but rather in the type of person I would become by doing it. In knowing beyond any shadow of doubt that I am capable.
  20. The things that stress out other people will energize me. Being busy energizes me. Working on my art energizes me. Everything I do energizes me.
  21. Without speaking about it, without having to, I was quietly moving myself towards the sunlight & freedom that belonged to me. The Magician. Strength. 
  22. I think about how good it will feel when I am there. We will be playing music together & I will know then completely free of doubt that I am exactly where I am meant to be. It will feel so damn good. It will be one of the best things I have ever done in my entire life.
  23. What you see here is what contains an infinity of multitudes. It contains all the art, all the ideas, all the energy, all the love. I am made of stardust. I love you so much. I have never been more proud of who I have become than I am right now. You are doing amazingly. You have come such a long way. I cannot even begin to describe my absolute love for you. I love you I love you I love you.
  24. I found the magazines in the closet. I hadn’t gotten rid of them like I had intended to, three years ago. I laughed. It felt like coming home. They were still there. This was the first time in five years that I was finally obsessed with the music again. The knowledge & love that I thought I had lost was still there. I saw things & the names of them popped back into my head & I suddenly knew them again. I finally had something to do again. A mission. A dream. No longer dormant. This time it was for real. It had always been my favorite. It wasn’t something I suddenly developed a longing for even though I hadn’t known if it a month previously. I had always loved it, it had always been a part of me. I reveled in it. It was real, it was transformative, & it was mine. It felt like coming home.
  25. “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.” “Be obsessed or be average”. 
  26. On the road I found myself quietly in between the nurturing trees & the radiant city streets at night. Lights on the water. The immensely beautiful coral reef ocean floating quietly. I could see for miles. I touched what had come before me & what was yet to come. When I had to fight for the only thing I had. I have myself & myself has me. Holding that close. I faced what terrified me & emerged the warrior.
  27. It was the kind of change I felt deep in the very center of me. It shook me to my core, & laughed to myself. I finally bought the album & listened to the first two songs off of it. Then I put on the most beautiful song I could think of & danced. I felt the energy shifting as I orchestrated & sculpted the year before my, my fingertips brushing softly past all the beautiful things I am creating. The beautiful things I am creating. It is all mine. All mine. Then it turned to midnight : I hugged myself & put on a different song. My new anthem. Authenticity feels so amazing. You can change, you can change. You can make it.
  28. You are capable of immense happiness. Remember the feeling you had as you drove on the quiet highway with yellow streetlamps & the jazz was playing & you found yourself spontaneously laughing even though you didn’t know why. Remember how fucking powerful that was. Remember the incomprehensibly beautiful transformation where you literally felt the shift inside, literally felt the Phoenix being reborn from the ashes, metamorphosis. Remember how it felt at the end, better than anything else you could have imagined, you were trembling with joy, as the cocoon slowly slipped away & was left behind as you emerged & drank deeply from the rich deep night. Remember the exact color of moonlight on your arm as you drove across the quiet darkened countryside, how the moon vibrated radiantly in the sky & you laughed freely. Remember how free you felt as the chains were finally left behind in a darkened seat by the stage & you were not the same person that had walked in there. Remember how it felt to finally, mysteriously, beautifully heal. You are capable of immense happiness. That is your “RISE”. That is your flame. That is everything you ever needed. Now you know what to do.
  29. “When you realize you lack nothing, the whole world is yours.” “Everything I need is inside me right now.” Remember these. YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED.
  30. What an amazing way to beginThis is going to be my best year yet.
  31. “Now it’s up to me, ooh, what will be…”
  32. I am finally becoming the master of my own fate. I am finally HERE. I am fucking unstoppable. I am fucking unstoppable.

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 ::

Here’s Why Consistency is Much More Important Than Perfection

Save $1. Exercise for one minute. The tiniest step in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all. When done consistently, it can move mountains.

Previously published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com.

Much too often, perfect becomes the enemy of good. Perfection becomes more important than making progress in the first place. There have been so many times I’ve given up on something because I wasn’t able to do it as often, as devotedly, in the same capacity that I’d originally planned to.

But starting, even with the most seemingly insignificant action, is always better than not starting at all. The smallest action in the right direction, especially when doing it becomes a habit, is incredibly powerful.

The tiniest step in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all. When done consistently, it can move mountains.

Sometimes, it feels like if you can’t commit to exercising an hour a day, if you can’t save 10% of your income, if you can’t write 5,000 words a day, that you might as well not do anything at all. That you should wait until it’s a “better time”.

Don’t wait for the perfect time to do something. Don’t stop & start over because you messed up, or you don’t think you’re ready, or you don’t have the time, the money, the resources. It will never be a better time than it is RIGHT. NOW. No one cares if you cheated at your diet for one day, or if you only start out writing ten words a day in the novel that’s been inside you for a decade.

What matters is that you DO SOMETHING.

Walking for one minute is better than not exercising at all, if that’s all you can do for now.

Practicing playing guitar for two minutes is better than not playing it at all, if that’s all you have time to do.

Eating a tablespoon of canned vegetables along with your burger & fries is better than not eating any vegetables at all, if you’re working on eating healthier.

Flossing one tooth every day is better than not flossing at all, if you don’t have the time to floss all your teeth.

Throwing out one item you no longer need is better than not throwing out anything at all, if you know streamlining your belongings would make your life better.

Opening one window in your house is better than no windows at all, if you want to let fresh air in but only one window has a screen.

Reading one new word in that language you’ve always wanted to learn is better than not learning anything at all, if learning that language seems too challenging.

Writing one line of code is better than not working on your app at all, if you’re working on becoming a programmer & getting your app out there.

Posting something on your blog, at the “worst” time of day, is better than not posting at all if that’s the only thing & the only time you can post it.

Choosing just once today to respond differently is better than staying stuck in the same habits or emotions or beliefs, if you’re trying to reach that next level.

Writing ten words in your novel every day is better than not writing anything at all, if you’ve got a story burning inside you that you know the world needs to see.

Putting $1 in your savings account each week is better than not saving any money at all, if that’s all you have the ability to save right now.

Painting one brush stroke on the canvas is better than not painting anything at all, if you don’t know what to paint, or how to paint it.

Because everything you do eventually adds up. It eventually counts for something. At the end of the year, you will have written 3,650 words more than you’ve written right now. You will have saved $365 more than you have currently. You will have spent 6.08 more hours exercising than you would have otherwise.

Everything you do will compound. Everything you do will leverage every other thing you do. You might be worried that you’re taking the easy way out by only taking one step. But if that’s all you can do right now, your tiny action is as valuable as gold. You will find the time, the motivation, the resources, to get better at it if it’s important to you. You will get to where you’re heading.

Consistency is more important than perfection ever will be.

What you do today to take a step further in the right direction is never a waste of time. You will be that much closer to living the type of life you want to live. The type that you deserve to live.

It’s kind of like the famous “Starfish Story”. You can’t throw all the starfish back into the water. But it will matter, invaluably, for the ones you do.

You can’t always make all the progress you wish you could make. You can’t always win every battle.

But it will matter, invaluably, for the ones you do.

Now, go out there & do something.

Here’s What Happens When You Choose to Live Life Authentically

When you live authentically, loving yourself becomes a whole lot easier.

Here's What Happens When You Choose to Live Life Authentically

Previously published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com.

Living an authentic life, or at least really trying to, is probably one of the most challenging things that I have done. To me, authenticity is living a life that makes you feel good about the person you are becoming.

It’s when you feel like it is both okay and beautiful to be the exact person that you genuinely are and always wanted to be, and when you get closer to a place of acceptance and love towards yourself.

To me, this isn’t a specific end result or level that you one day reach, but an ongoing process of continually reinventing yourself and making adjustments to your life to match your authentic self. In the process of figuring out who I want to be and working on becoming that, I’ve noticed some wonderful changes.

When you start fearlessly reinventing yourself, you will finally feel happier. When you start living authentically, happiness will start coming more naturally to you, and you’ll feel surprisingly good about the person you are. At first, living authentically can feel scary. You may feel guilt that you’re not living the life others think you should, or be afraid that no one will like or understand the new you.

Changing the way other people see you is probably one of the hardest parts of really becoming yourself, but it’s more than worth it. You might find yourself wanting to try new things that you didn’t have the confidence to do before, and life will probably start becoming a hell of a lot more fun.

For a good portion of my teenage years, I felt strongly dissatisfied and unhappy with my life. I couldn’t do anything that I wanted to do without being plagued by the fear that others wouldn’t like my choices, and even the smallest of frowns or negative comment would dissuade me from doing what I really wanted to do.

I felt like everyone’s expectations of who I was supposed to be were things that I had to listen to, no matter how much they conflicted with who I really was.

One day, I came to the realization that most of the things that made me feel overwhelmed were related to me trying to be what others wanted me to be. I also realized that living my life based on what other people wanted was fruitless and would never allow me to be satisfied or at peace with myself.

Immediately, I began making a list of things I needed to do to start feeling more like myself, the version of myself that I was yet to fully embrace. I worked on incorporating goals and changes into my life that felt good to me and matched up with the kind of person I was excited to start being while ruthlessly editing out the things that didn’t make me happy. When I look at my life since then, it feels predominately good, and a whole lot lighter and brighter than before. The best part is, it keeps getting better all the time, and I know that the more I work on becoming more myself, the better my life will feel.

When you live authentically, loving yourself becomes a whole lot easier.

Loving something encourages you to take better care of it, so the more you love yourself, the more you will value whatever self-care activities are important to you. You will look forward to the things you do that make you feel good. I strongly believe that living an authentic life is the best choice you can make for yourself, and the more expressive form of self-care there is. Whether self-care for you means making sure to drink a cup of hot tea every morning, eat better, spend time with your family, pets, or friends, wear an outfit that makes you feel amazing, go out to socialize more, spend time alone, work more, work less, or get enough sleep, you will become more intuitive about what self-care rituals work best when you start figuring out who you are.

Things will connect and come together in beautiful ways that you may never have expected, and you may find sudden clarity regarding situations or things that you previously felt divided about.

The biggest part of becoming your authentic self is being, owning, and loving the person that you are, regardless of how conventional or unconventional a person that may be.

Your confidence will soar when you start making choices that you really connect with. and this confidence will propel you to take the next steps in reinventing yourself. You’ll find that you aren’t so afraid of what others think of you, and when you start living with honesty, you will inspire others to do the same.

That is perhaps the best and more awe-inspiring part about truly being yourself of all — the fact that you will possess the electric power to empower others to take steps to become who they are. When you start to work on living an authentic life, you will realize how much beauty there is in the unique, amazing, one-of-a-kind person that you were born to be.

the problem & the cure

Highway road between forests

from my upcoming book, “Not a Dime a Dozen”

I effortlessly fell into the same coping patterns I always reached for, although they had never served me well. The days started feeling like running through an ocean of mud. It exerts you, but you never get anywhere. The other thing that stood out to me suddenly was the stark white walls of emptiness. It was much too silent, & while the sight of the finish line had given me something to look forward to, it was only a mirage, & it faded when night fell. This sensation grew in the moments when everything was rushed towards the redundancy of another day, & no one spoke, or at least could not be heard over the roaring cacophony of quiet.

I wondered why I always found myself at the same crossroad at night, with the familiar darkened road & the street signs impossible to make out in the darkness. The road forked off into multiple pathways, & the pressure of choosing the right one felt as random as having to pick the door the magician’s assistant is really behind. I had made choices that I thought would make things better, but the porthole door in the sky scooped me up & deposited me in the same place, week after week, & the same feelings always found me again.

It reminded me of the memory album I’d looked through a thousand times, even though each time I asked myself why I romanticized my own pain so greatly. Was there really anything beautiful about acting as the tragic figure I’d written myself to be, but never really wanted to become? I wondered what my childhood self would think of me if she’d met me now, & if she’d be pleased by the accomplishments I’d achieved, or discouraged & fearing the inevitability of often sunless days & starless nights that were ahead . I had worn these feelings like a comfortable coat, returning to them when the expanse of everything else I could do instead of this seemed too much. I resorted to it & then reveled in it, sometimes feeling as if even in the darkness, my so-called vulnerability was nothing more than another part of my facade, put on for the show of it in an attempt to control the ways others saw me.

I felt the cool waves of an infinite ocean washing up over my feet. The sun rested upon the horizon, neon-pink & hazily vibrating like a mirage. In these moments, there was no yesterday, no tomorrow, no more haunting Mondays. She told me I was getting the same way that I was the last time this had happened; what was that supposed to mean, & how was I supposed to feel about something I couldn’t help myself from feeling? At least I was trying to dig myself out from under the rubble of the fire, & didn’t that count for something?

When I saw my reflection in the mirror of her face, I reeled back. The crystal ball on the mahogany desk informed me of the shrouded sunlessness that the road I had chosen contained, & provided a glimpse of the person I would one day become if I did not turn around. The papers on the walls clearly spelled LEAVE NOW, & the flapping curtain by the open window communicated in Morse Code TURN BACK. I suddenly knew that it didn’t matter where I went or which road I chose, as long as it was different than the one I was on. I fled from the office & slammed the door behind me, vowing I would never go back.

Instead of admitting that I am afraid of courage required to step into my own self & create the kind of life I want to live, I use my own sorrow as an excuse. Wearing it & melting into its folds is easier than becoming someone new. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to disappear & reappear somewhere else, my slate cleaned & my future open. To do that would be the easy way out; it is not necessary for my freedom, & I do not need to wait for the bells to sound with the validation that I am allowed to liberate myself.

Palm trees under the sky

It was only on the forbidden drive to the city that I felt the shifting of soil. I felt acutely the changes blossoming & fading into existence, & the rubble on top of me finally being cleared away by my own doing. Beams of sunlight fell around me on the ground, & in the breeze with the music & the effortless swaying of trees, it was the first time in a long time that I finally felt normal. A preview of what is to come. Freedom was that essential code by which I knew I needed to live by, if I were to ever fully realize what things like happiness hope meant. What I had been doing was the exact opposite, & I was growing tired of my old patterns & sorrows & habits. What had once been a darkness I relished & lovingly extracted every ounce of pain from now became a song I’d never liked but heard play too many times on the radio. My old standby patterns weren’t beautiful & tragic – they were just boring, & didn’t allow half enough time for me to merely exist & simply be. Too much of it was shrouded in routine & in monotonous pandering to the politics touted by over-idolized figures I wanted nothing to do with.

If I were to have more days like this, where I felt the pure, unadulterated & fluttering joy of existing in the world of my exact choosing, I would have to summon the bravery to brush myself off & keep trying until I made it. This time, I would stand at the darkened crossroads in the night & I would not be afraid. I would pick the road leading in the direction of the same breeze I’d felt on the beach & in the city, one which wordlessly murmurs of home. When I find all the good feelings I thought I’d forgotten, waiting for me somewhere along the path, I will be able to trust once more in my ability to prevail, to create this for myself, & to thrive.