Hi! Welcome to my blog! 
I'm Ashley, and here's the background on who I am and why I have a blog:

No, I am not a giant lumberjack...
This is me with Paul Bunyan
Akeley, MN
(on a bike ride from the cabin)

1.  The basics:  29 years old. Minnesota. St. Paddy's Day Baby, which makes me lucky and kind of Irish. 
With boyfriend of 5 years, Mike. Family includes Mom, Dad, older brother Chad, Dog-nephew Henry.

(His sometimes goonish smile makes my day.)

Mom & Dad
(A photo of a photo -- we don't take a lot of pictures)
Chad & Henry
(aka Bro & Monster)

2.  The working life:  2nd grade teacher by day, High school level & ACT/SAT test prep tutor by night.
A glimpse into my daily life.
3.  The outside-of-work life:  Relaxing, running, biking, reading, vacationing at Disney World, squeezing in as much summer as we can at the cabin up north.

Disney World
4.  The blog idea:  I have always, always wanted to keep some sort of diary.  I teach students every day that it's important to write every day.  How hypocritical, when I have never been so diligent myself?!  Well, I guess I just never thought I had anything to write about. 
     This summer, I began realizing that I know, read about, and/or hear of several people who are unhappy with their lives, and I couldn't figure out why they would get so stuck in an unhappy rut.  Well, then I realized that I was kind of stuck in a rut, too.  So, I began to think...
     I had an easy time throughout my school years.  I had close friends, attained decent grades, and participated in all sorts of activities - dance, soccer, softball, volleyball, tennis, basketball, cheerleading, track, service projects and teams, you name it.  I was always on-the-go, and I was pretty good at juggling various activities as well as academics and even jobs in high school. 
     Then college happened.  It wasn't a bad time in my life, but it wasn't a time where I was exactly "full steam ahead" for my own sake.  I joined the cheerleading team my freshman year, got my coursework done fairly well, participated in some intramural sports (broomball, inner tube water polo, bowling, volleyball, soccer), joined a service sorority, partied, vacationed, and just had a good, but kind of meaningless, time. 
     About six months before graduation I found an online group that was training to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.  I spent all of my college spring breaks in Disney World, as well as at least one trip per year for most of my childhood, so I decided this would be the perfect thing to celebrate my graduation.  I was graduating in December and the race is always held in early January; my family would be spending Christmas and New Year's there already, so the only thing I needed to do was extend my hotel reservation by a bit and I would be set to run.  So, I talked my brother into accompanying me, and began training.  I loved it!  I adhered to the training plan and it seemed to give my final months of college a purpose.  I lost the weight I had gained By the time our vacation in December began, I was prepared to run 13 miles without walking.  Chad, on the other hand, was equipped to run for about 13 minutes without walking.  We walked the race, but it gave us both the bug to continue running and racing.
     Since graduation I have been teaching full-time and working at least one other part time job.  This doesn't leave a lot of time for me to take care of myself, so I treated working out as something that could be done in fits and spurts.  I would register for and participate in races, thinking that this alone made me "fit." I completed several more half-marathons, a few 5Ks, 7Ks, and 8 mile races.  I even completed two marathons in 2007.  I was so excited to complete them that I didn't mind that I was the last official finisher in one - you can't have much more of a humbling experience than that, right? (I'll write about it for you sometime.) Looking back, though, I'm a little sad, because I know that if I had dedicated just a little more time to my training and a little less time to working, I could have done so much better. Either way, the end result wasn't so good.  I gained weight steadily and applauded myself if the scale stayed the same.  I bargained that all women gain some weight through their twenties, but deep down I was never really happy about it.  I just couldn't figure out why I was having such a hard time changing it!  Mike has stuck with me for these five years of too much work, but he mentioned that while my outlook is always good, he doesn't think that I'm having as much fun as I used to.  He's right!  Overall, my recent life hasn't been overly fulfilling, and I'm working on a change!
     In March I began the Paleo Diet, and I have had a lot of success with it.  My energy levels have gone way up, and I've been able to commit more energy to getting more workouts in. My workout counts have gone up and my pace per mile times have gone down. I love getting out for a run or bike ride and seeing what I'm capable of these days!  I finally feel ready to challenge myself to be competitive again, and that's a great feeling.  I think it's time to sign up for a race!

So...  Since I have been so inspired by other blogs, Mike commented that it might be time for me to start my own blog.  He thinks that I might be able to offer something to others, and while I don't necessarily know it's true, I hope to give back.  I am also excited to begin writing on a daily basis.  I think this will give me something to look back on, as well as something to keep me looking forward and living a quality life. 

Please come along with me as I blog about making each day count towards living a healthy and fulfilling life. Topics that you may see in my blog are: running, biking, general exercise, reading, relaxing, working, teaching, learning, family, relationships, friendships, faith, inspiration, events, and many other ideas that are swirling in my brain as I begin this blog. I hope that you feel welcome here, and I hope to offer inspiration to those who are seeking it.

Thanks for stopping by!

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