- I published a total of 11 books, up from 10 in 2016. The books I published in 2017 were: Feel the Hidden Flowers (the novel I’d been working on for 2+ years); Art Poems – Volume 3; FOG: A Zine; 50 Adorable Sheep Facts; Sun in the Night: The Poems of Art Poems & Assemblage; We Love You, Little Owl; Herkimer & The Bully; Larry the Owl Saves Christmas; Blobfish (Wonderful Wildlife, Book 8); The Walls Were Gray; & A Ship Onto a Sea of Hope.
- Acted in the second play I’ve been in (Shakespeare in Hollywood by Ken Ludwig, as Puck)
- Released my first-ever iPhone app! (Adorable Fall Stickers).
- Started a weekly YouTube show! I’m currently at 30 episodes (30!!!) & it’s going strong!
- Started my first podcast!
- Did my first cover song on YouTube (Changes by David Bowie).
- Went to an AMAZING selection of concerts. I saw 18 (!!!!!) musicians in concert, & went to my FIRST REAL CONCERT EVER:
- Daryl Hall & John Oates (My first real concert ever! It was such an immensely positive experience that it changed my life.)
- Tears for Fears (with Daryl Hall & John Oates)
- Allen Stone (With Daryl Hall & John Oates)
- Queen + Adam Lambert
- Styx (As part of their United We Rock tour)
- REO Speedwagon (As part of their United We Rock tour)
- Don Felder (As part of their United We Rock tour)
- Walk the Moon (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- Portugal. The Man. (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- Paramore (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- Vance Joy (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- X Ambassadors (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- The Lumineers (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- MisterWives (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- Bleachers (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- Saint Motel (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- Andrew McMahon & The Wilderness (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- Magic Giant (At the 97X Next Big Thing festival)
- Ate rambutans for the first time.
- Grew my own wheatgrass!
- Bought my dream guitar – a beautiful Fender 72′ Series Telecaster Thinline!
- Bought my first Fender amp.
- Bought a saxophone.
- Got a sweet potato ocarina
- Got a stylophone.
- Bought a Cry Baby wah-wah pedal for my guitar.
- Got pet White Cloud Mountain Minnows, more Corydoras Catfish, & guppies for my aquarium. Also got Neon Tetras, which sadly did not work out.
- Started investing in the stock market.
- Completed my first-ever 5k! (Barktoberfest in New Port Richey, FL).
- Became a monthly donor to the Humane Society of the United States.
- Got a massage for the first time by Donna Joyce Foxwell.
- Went to my first yoga class at Flow Yoga in Port Richey, FL.
- Began learning to speak Spanish with the wonderful Duolingo app, which I highly recommend.
- Became more of a minimalist. Got rid of my old dresser & got a great dresser alternative (article coming soon!)
- Attended the free Dale Carnegie Public Speaking Mastery event.
- Went to a Daymond John’s Success Formula Event.
- Started coloring my hair red, & coloring the ends of my hair bright colors like yellow & orange.
- Signed up for the 52 Weeks of Momentum course from Benjamin Hardy.
- Read 57 books, up from only a sad, small handful in 2016.
TRAVEL & EXPERIENCES:
- Went on my EPIC FLORIDA ROAD TRIP (which I wrote a book about – & that book will be out later this year!). My Epic Florida Road Trip was the first time I’ve EVER traveled by myself & the first time in my life I’ve gone on vacation. It was one of the best things I have EVER DONE. It changed me forever in the best way, & it gave me incredible confidence in my ability to take care of myself.
- Traveled on a plane for the first time when I flew to Houston to see Queen + Adam Lambert in concert. That trip also included other firsts such as “first time renting a car” & “first time traveling outside the state of Florida by myself”.
- Key Places I Traveled: Miami (FL), The Florida Keys, St. Augustine (FL), The Everglades, all around the state of Florida, Orlando (FL), & Houston (TX).
- Went parasailing in Key West at Sebago Watersports.
- Went to Zoo Miami (BEST ZOO EVER!) & saw amazing animals like tapirs, koalas, giraffes, giant tortoises, elephants, rhinoceroses, anteaters, otters, & flamingos. The zoo is 280 acres & is HUGE. It’s filled with so many amazing things.
- Went camping for the first time! Going camping is something I always wanted to do since I was a Girl Scout (but I never got to when I was one).
- Petted sting rays & nurse sharks (which were adorable) at Florida Keys Marine Encounters. Helped train the baby sting rays! Petted emus & a silky chicken at the Everglades Alligator Farm. Got to pet baby alligators at both places & held a baby alligator at the Everglades Alligator Farm. Held a pet skunk at the a booth at Barktoberfest.
- Fed giraffes, a black rhinoceros, & parrots at the Miami Zoo; fed emus, Silkie Chickens, & koi at the Everglades Alligator Farm; fed sting rays, nurse sharks, tortoises, turtles, tarpon, & parrotfish at Florida Keys Marine Encounters.
- Went snorkeling in a coral reef at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, FL. While I was snorkeling, I saw a Caribbean Reef Shark, which was awesome but it freaked me out.
- Stayed in a hotel by myself for the first time! (Comfort Inn, in Naples, FL).
- Camped in the Everglades! (Read my Epic Florida Road Trip article if you want to hear about how mosquitoes taught me perseverance). Went on a 15-mile bike ride in the Everglades, which was amazing.
- Went on an airboat ride in the Everglades at the Everglades Alligator Farm!
- Walked down Duval Street in Key West.
- Visited the Southernmost Point of the United States (in Key West).
- Visited an Alligator Farm (The Everglades Alligator Farm! I got to fulfill my desire to see gators there).
- Went to two BEAUTIFUL botanical gardens in Houston (Mercer Botanic Garden & Houston Arboretum & Nature Center).
- Went on a “canopy walk” in Naples at Myakka Springs State Park.
- Visited the amazing art museum, The Menil Collection, in Houston, TX. Saw art by Andy Warhol & René Magritte.
- Visited the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, an outdoor sculptural water fountain in uptown Houston.
- Visited The Galleria mall in Houston. The Galleria is the 7th largest mall in America!
- Went to the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.
- Went to the Smallest Post Office, which is in Ochopee, FL (near the Everglades).
- Saw baby armadillos foraging for food in the wild. They were one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen, & I saw them at Fort Matanzas Park in St. Augustine, FL.
- Toured a lighthouse (The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum).
- Toured an ancient building (Castillo de San Marco in St. Augustine, FL).
- Visited the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach, FL.
- Rode on a miniature train, an airplane, & monorail for the first time; rode on a boat for the first time since I was a kid.
You still have time, but you have to go NOW.
But it’s your choice what you make of the last month of the year.
The year is almost over.
But you still have time.
What are you going to do about it?
Wow, 2016 was a year filled with so many changes. There were a reasonable number of not-so-good things that happened, & a number of really good things that happened for me (you can read my poetic essay about the year here). I’ll choose to focus on the awesome things.
Before I get started telling you what I plan on doing in 2017, here’s a quick overview of what I achieved in 2016:
★ Started an online store (!!!!!!!), where I curate a collection of awesome, funky, adorable, & colorful things. I’ve sold more stuff than I thought I would so far (mostly on the eBay listings for my products), which is very exciting!
★ Re-released my debut album, Fields of Destiny, via CD Baby, therefore making it available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes, & a whole host of other online music retailers. PEOPLE CAN ACTUALLY BUY IT NOW.
★ Got my first-ever acting role, as Audrey in Ken Ludwig’s play Leading Ladies, & a second acting role in the play Shakespeare in Hollywood as Puck.
★ My first article to be published by a website other than my own was published by Thought Catalog!
★ Got pet guinea pigs, which is something I’ve wanted since I was nine or ten years old.
★ Bought a Smart Car! Ever since I was sixteen I always wanted one, because they’re both very safe & very gas efficient. This is something I manifested for myself, after test driving a lot of shitty, cheap cars. I decided I wasn’t going to settle for one of the aforementioned cars I test drove, figured out a way to make the Smart Car happen, & voila! I have a Smart Car, & I love it. It’s even more awesome than I thought it would be.
★ Got my driver’s license! After a long seven months of learning how to drive, I finally got my licence. This was one of the most influential things that happened to me, because now I have the ability to go wherever I want & make things happen for myself. I’m no longer limited in this aspect.
★ Touched a crocodile (at a local Earth Day event). It was cool being able to touch such a powerful animal, & the scales on his back were unlike anything I’ve ever touched.
★ Got a Nutribullet-esque blender for making healthy smoothies. It’s not THE Nutribullet, but my dad got it for me & I love it. I made a really great smoothie with it the other day involving blood oranges, English cucumber, & a salad with pea shoots. This was something on last year’s list.
★ I actually wrote down five things that happened to me each day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, for the past year! In years prior I’ve always been bummed out about not having a written record of the year. I’ve never been disciplined enough to actually do this, but now, thanks to the Document Your Life journal that I wrote & published, I actually achieved this, & I’m proud of myself!
★ Felt like I’m getting a much better idea of who I am + what I want out to life.
Goals for 2017
As for all of the awesome things I’m going to do in 2017, I have a few new ideas for planning these goals. The first school of thought which I think sounds intriguing is picking one big goal to accomplish each month. I forgot where I heard this, but I like the idea. If I do this, I’ll stay on track for all the big goals I have for the year. No matter what else happens, I will accomplish 12 big things this year, & the idea of that is really exciting. Provided I accomplish the big goal for each month, I can then achieve as many small goals each month too, without having to worry about not achieving the big things.
The second idea is inspired by two ideas. The first – multiple things James Altucher has written where he discusses picking themes for your life instead of goals. The second – what Gretchen Rubin discusses in The Happiness Project, about how Ben Franklin picked thirteen virtues to rate & measure his performance in. I thought, “Why not combine the ideas & pick some themes that I want to work on cultivating this year, in addition to the big goals?” Both lists of alternate goal are still things I’m working on.
In the mean time, here are some things I plan to accomplish in the upcoming year:
★ Direct a film. By film, I mean a real film starring actors other than myself, & a variety of locations, & a script. I have several ideas & haven’t picked one yet, but this is one of the things I’m most excited about doing.
★ Run in a 5k. As it is now, I’m in reasonable shape but can’t run for more than a few minutes in a row. I bought myself some running shoes & a stop watch so that when I’m able to start training, it will be easy.
★ Continue growing my online store. I have a TON of plans for things I want to start selling, & products I’m working on designing. SHOP Ashlee Craft will soon be home to t-shirts, a whole bunch of stickers, & hopefully some new exclusive pins, all designed by me. I also think it would be awesome to design magnets, window clings, & journals.
★ Get a paid acting gig. Acting is lots of fun, & I’m glad that I took the leap & started pursuing it in this previous year.
★ Republish out-of-print books that I love under my publishing company. There are loads of great things – books, music, films, images, etc – which are great, but people don’t know about them anymore. They should, & I want to be the one to help these works of art be brought into the light again.
★ Read a lot more. For most of 2016, I sadly didn’t read very much at all. Towards the end of the year I bought a lot of great books (Choose Yourself & What To Do When It’s Your Turn are two that stand out) & actually started reading them. Then I realized how much I missed reading. This year, I’m actually going to track every book I read, & I’m going to read as many as possible.
★ Record more cover songs. I LOVED recording my cover of David Bowie’s Changes. I have a whole list of other songs I would love to cover, so I’m going to work on this a lot more soon. Before the end of the year, I will also release another album of original compositions.
★ Start investing in companies. I’ve already picked out a few good prospects I will buy stock in soon.
★ Write more books. This is always a goal of mine, because there are always so many books to write. Currently in my book release plans are the novel I’ve been working on for two years, a children’s storybook about owls, a children’s series about a mouse, another motivational book, a book of personal essays, more issues of Assemblage, & more zines. A lot of the books I’ve already published are also going to be republished under Freedom Meadow Media.
★ Release an app.
★ Travel. I would love to travel to three different places. Somewhere in my state, a different state, & a different country.
★ Minimalism. 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.
★ Figure out what I really want. For now. Become more myself. Reinvent myself a hundred times this year, if that’s what it takes. Get to the place that I think I’m going. Be happier, for real. Know what it feels like to finally have peace of mind. Explore & live in the world that is mine.
What are your goals for 2017? Let me know on the social media channel of your choice!
The moon last night looked like a Cheshire cat in the sky, smiling with golden good natured mischief & mystery. I listened to Alice Cooper’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” & Hall & Oates’ “Rich Girl” loud in the car. My two favorite songs at the moment. I looked out at the streetlamps & the velvety cloak of darkness.
Just like last year, the transition of one year to the next occurs in the center of a sea of changes. Both this year & last year at this time, the sense of a major shift is pervasive. The kind of feeling where everything is changing; all the old ideas & beliefs & paradigms & personas & dynamics & status quos. Worlds open up – stars are born & die in front of you & then born again – everything circles around in the middle of a wind storm.
The seas are rough but able to be navigated. The rain falls hard but they water the flowers. The old things you used to be are slowly fading & shriveling & retreating back into the brush they came from.
Fears were created & fears were put to rest, & ultimately I still ended up with less of them, & more of them simultaneously. Uncertainty. The great fear still remains in the backdrop (happiness) but fears emerged to the front lines (breakdown). But the fears are all quieted in the warmth of humid nights, when it’s all wrapped up in a blanket.
Confidence was built. It was built in each hour I spent in front of those who would judge me & decide the turns my path would take, but I was still the one choosing to be there. Choosing to be judged, so that I may progress. It also showed its face when I actually started asking for what I wanted. I asked him & he said yes. I told them & they were supportive & encouraging. I announced it to them & they wanted to help me & didn’t care that I was turning away at the same time. I decided & they were there. I showed up, & spoke up, for the first time in years.
Showing up. That’s another thing. I watched as those around me were reluctant to take chances. To make choices. To put themselves out there somewhere they might fail. In most failures though, the failure itself is the only worst-case-scenario. If someone says no the world doesn’t stop spinning. & if you don’t try, there’s no way you can ever win. Showing up, in all ways, not just putting yourself out there but also showing up for your own decisions, owning them. Making choices & then making them happen.
I found a home & then it was gone. I reveled in my relief when I walked through your doors. Immediately you took me in. I found your embrace full of love & genuine connection & fun & it gave me something to do & I loved it. Knowing you made all the other things fade away. I thought that I would shrivel when you left me. I didn’t think I could do anything without you. You were like a drug. It was all about me depending on something other than myself & putting all my happiness in it & betting my whole existence on whether you liked me back. I need to stop doing that. When will I realize that happiness will never come from dependency on such anchors? It needs to be mine.
I found my people but then they left me. Slowly they walked out on me & the door closed. They never opened it again. I thought they were the ones that were supposed to make me feel the way I always wanted to feel. I thought the loneliness would go away. Sooner or later, one of us must know that I really did try to get close to you. I tried, & reached out further & more honestly than I ever had, & with deeper vulnerability. But despite finally putting myself out there & trying to make a connection, they turned their backs & went separate ways. I loved you but you didn’t love me back. & I will be okay with that. Somewhere out there I will find my friends.
Also, there were beautiful things. That moment sitting in the golden light of afternoon in the restaurant smiling & feeling like I belonged somewhere for once. New love & new forms of happiness. The home, the memories, friendship – they all still meant something, frozen in time, even if they were no longer the same glowing realms they had been before.
It was a year when I really opened up my hands & reached out & created. I feel like 2016 was like a big educational seminar, teaching me how the world worked & how to ask the questions I needed to ask. A year which required me to make decisions about who I was & who I was going to be. I feel like I learned more this year that probably any other year in recent history.
2016: a year of making magic & of deepening belief in magic, & one where despite some of the painful & darkened challenges that I encountered, I still made it. I survived. It feels like it was a year of growing hope, a stepping stone year, vitally important to be completed & triumphed over before being able to move on to the next open doors.
Open, a concept I tie to authenticity. I want to make 2017 a year of authenticity, & honesty, & freedom. & I want all of those concepts to tie into happiness, to tie into a grander & more wonderful & much more happy + free version of myself.
& so, I open my arms up & my heart up & I make the new year feel comfortable & welcome. I open my heart to let in all the new light through mosaic windows, & open my hands to new creations that must be made. The hope has been built up into a big glowing ball of light, & the music is on, & I am dancing, & I turn now to face the Newness, radical potential, happiness, magic, freedom. I stand tall & proud, looking out at the star-filled sky & the Cheshire cat moon & later, cheerful rays of sunbeams painted across my floor, & I say,