The story behind Willow & Ash:
Hi, I'm Ashley!
I want to share with you how I’ve had healing in my life and how Willow & Ash has helped that.
When I was 19, I married my high school sweetheart. Our marriage had so many problems the entire 11 years we were married. Part of that was that I didn’t know who I was without him. My identity was in him and his career. We had three precious boys together and began raising them across the other side of the country from my hometown where all of my friends and family were. Once we were settled in his new career and our new life in Colorado, things started spiraling out of control. I wasn’t perfect by any means In our relationship but I did deal with quite a bit of heartbreak and betrayal. For the first time in my life I was dealing with depression and anxiety. It was bad. So bad that I thought the only logical thing to escape all of the pain was to leave this earth. Thankfully, in the midst of going to take my own life I saw my oldest son’s bike leaned up against our garage. I realized what I was about to do and knew the impact it would have on them not having a Mom anymore. From that point, I had to find a reason to live. And that reason was for my boys. I took on the motto of Choose Joy and began to claim that for myself. Finally, I had the courage to say I was done with the marriage even though I didn’t think I could do anything without him. After all, I had been a part of him since I was 17.
I packed up my van as full as I could with the boys and drove 22 hours across the country by myself. With a nursing baby. First accomplishment that I was proud of. I did it. I had done one thing that I didn’t think I could do.
When I first moved back, I was a total mess. (If you had any encounters with me back then, good grief I’m so embarrassed and so sorry. Haha!) I reconnected with an old acquaintance and we started developing a friendship again. I wasn’t interested in him at all at first. He wasn’t my type...at least I thought. He was a cowboy boots wearing kind of guy and I am a full sleeve tattooed kind of girl. But he was kind and patient and I completely enjoyed his company. It took me months before I realized that I really don’t have a type. I just wanted someone who loved me for me and just the way I am. Thank goodness he knew me from back in the day and knew I wasn’t a train wreck all of the time. He waited for me to come around. And I did. Now fast forward, I get to marry my best friend Justin in July!! And for the record, I also plan to wear a pair of cowboys boots with my wedding dress.
Justin is my biggest encourager. He believes in me when I don’t believe in myself. He has helped me view things differently and has helped initiate the healing that I needed from my divorce. Justin was the one that encouraged me to make my first piece of jewelry as a stress reliever and to offer it up to others. I didn’t think I could do it. But I did. Another accomplishment.
When I first started making jewelry I enjoyed it but it just wasn’t fulfilling doing kids names and birthdays on my stones. I wanted something more and I wanted it to be meaningful. During my hard season, I had someone send me a shirt in the mail that said “You are so worth loving” in a time when I felt completely unloved. The impact that the gift in the mail had to me was huge. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make jewelry with a purpose. I wanted people to give my jewelry as gifts to those who are struggling or who feel unloved themselves.
I started drawing inspiration from words that had an impact on me. I decided to make my motto “Choose Joy” for all of those times when you just feel like you can’t go on. Other phrases come from words that I didn’t believe for myself... Loved. Valued. WORTHY. ENOUGH.
I started being vulnerable with my story and it brought me healing. I had people who began sending me messages telling me how inspired they were... by me. I was shocked. How could I inspire others? I was just trying to keep my head above the water. I was able to forgive those who had wounded me so badly and I didn’t NEED that apology from them anymore. But after I chose forgiveness, those apologies came. My heart began to soften. I started having compassion instead of hate. My heart started filling with joy instead of bitterness.
Since then, I’ve developed a friendship with my ex. He’s the father to my children and I want to have a healthy relationship; not one of constant anguish. Another accomplishment.
By sharing who I am and being vulnerable, I’ve gained confidence in myself. I WANT to have an impact on those who feel hopeless. I want to continue to improve and practice being kind. I want people to know their worth and that they are worthy of being loved.
I look back on all of the things I didn’t think I could do and see where I am now and I’m SO PROUD. Willow & Ash has given me a platform to reach so many more people than I could imagine. I know I am capable of so many more accomplishments but I’m just taking it one day at a time. I’m making a difference. But it had to start with myself.