Secrets from last year…

January 12, 2014

many of life's failures..

I know the beginning of the year is normally when everyone elaborates on the year to come, the things they hope to achieve, and all of their new beginnings, but as you can tell from my history around here, I don’t exactly stick to the norm. Yes, I do have goals for 2014, but they’re not really new to this year, they’re ones I’ve been aiming for but not all have come to pass yet (with the exception of organizing my receipts for tax purposes better, that one’s for you Mom!). Instead, I think it’s time I tell you a little about last year… In all of my twenty-five years of life, this past year was the most heartbreaking, terrifying, enlightening, challenging, and forgiving all in one.

First things first, I want you to know that I attribute what I’ve been able to accomplish in my career with Sugar & Cloth (and life in general) to God’s grace. Yes, you’ve seen lots of cool projects come and go, partnerships with companies that I could only ever hope to have been a part of, and many, many hours of hard work behind the scenes, but none of those things would have been possible without the blessings and open doors I’ve been given. I say all of this because, quite honestly, God’s grace is much the reason why I chose not to give up somewhere in between my divorce, two full time jobs, financial struggles, and lessons learned the hard way from 2013.

Towards the beginning of the year, my very few years of marriage came to an end. Though I was young when I got married and it didn’t last, I still believe marriage to be sacred younger or older. I also believe that it’s true, both love and marriage is a continual choice, that it starts with a spark and is up to you to keep alive, and lastly, that it’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. I won’t go into detail, but what really matters is that my ex-husband wasn’t and isn’t a bad person, nor am I, but we are not better together and it was something neither of us listened to in the beginning.

Our divorce was something that had been such a long time coming that I was surprised how much it was even affecting me when it became real, let alone anything else. All I could think about was what a terrible person I must be, what mistakes did I make, what would my friends and family think, that I would always be damaged goods after this, or that God must be so disappointed in me. I loved his family so much that I would sometimes torture myself about wether or not they hated me now. These are the reasons why I really told no one at first. It wasn’t that I had bitterness towards him or the situation or that I was afraid of being on my own (we’d really been on our own for a while), it was that I was confused and hadn’t forgiven myself.

Now, mix all of this with being in Texas with all of my close friends and family over a thousand miles away on the East Coast, trying to keep up with my day job at Smilebooth to the best of my ability to make ends meet with now being my sole income, and trying to still run Sugar & Cloth regularly as my own business all at once without anyone really noticing much of a difference. I was sort of a blubbering mess to package it nicely.

people around you

Though I may have been MIA from crafting far more than my instincts tell me too, accidentally started crying a few times at work, ate a few too many cupcakes, made a few irrational decisions, ran and jumped in bed more times than I’m willing to admit from having lived by myself, and spent more than the normal amount of one-on-one time with my cat Thomas (we go way back), I have survived. I am both weak and strong, but I choose to not give up. I also refuse to compare myself to others. I may not be on the path that I hoped I would be two years ago, but in so many more ways, I am amazed and thankful for both where I actually am and where I’m not. I may have hoped Sugar & Cloth would be further along than it is, or that I’d be closer to starting a family or buying a home like the friends I grew up with, but God’s perfect timing is even better.

All of this to say that my journey is my own. I can’t compare where I am to where others are, or what decisions I’ve made that may be different from them. There is no such thing as a perfect story, and my time will come. Although I would never wish some of circumstances on anyone, I’m thankful for the humility they’ve given me. I’ll still continue to work hard towards my goals in 2014, and every year after. I’ve also  learned to forgive myself, realized that second chances and love come again, and that God’s grace will always be more important than any measure of success.

quote designs by Sugar & Cloth

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60 thoughts on “Secrets from last year…

  1. Lexy | The Proper Pinwheel

    Oh Ash. I love you 110 times more (if it’s possible!!!). 2013 was a definitely crazy year for all of us, and so many wonderful things have happened for you!! You take the good with the bad and you’ve been absolutely gracious about it. I know that everything that comes your way will be because it was meant to! You deserve the best!

    I love ya,

    Lex

    Reply
  2. julia-tagandtibby

    Beautifully written Ashley. I think one of the biggest lies is thinking we should keep pain hidden. Definitely something I struggle with. I so appreciate you honesty in sharing..blogging real life isn’t easy. xo julia

    Reply
  3. Gilit @ Shoes Off Please

    I just adore you (in a way only someone who doesn’t actually know you but reads your blog can). I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your unwavering honesty, talent, and creativity. You are a real inspiration. I’m not in your shoes but I do know that those who are self aware and dedicated to bettering themselves, as you seem to be, will be alright the end. I hope that this year is filled with even greater opportunities than last year and fewer struggles. They may have made you stronger last year, but I think a break would be nice :) thank you for sharing

    Reply
  4. Heather (the lovely cupboard)

    Ashley, I read your blog since the beginning (found you via Lexy;) I’ve celebrated your big collaborations and seen you develop a beautiful aesthetic here.

    I’ve never commented until today. (Sometimes I’m just a lurker and need to comment on blogs I admire.)

    Thank you for sharing your truth with honesty and not glossing it over. It is amazing how grounded and gracious you are. Being “strong and weak” is something I identify with too. ..so many of us facing life’s tough blows do.

    Keep going. The world and the web needs you to create and share.

    Reply
  5. amy c

    Your honesty and vulnerability is beautiful. Surviving is sometimes all you can do, hanging on longer than the rest. You are a wonderfully talented creative spirit and your perseverance is to be admired. Snuggle the cat, eat the cupcakes and keep going. #boldbrilliantbeautiful :)

    Reply
  6. Esther

    So happy to hear you say that you’re not comparing yourself to others. For every person you wish you were like, there are probably thousands that are completely different to that person’s life. It makes no sense to compare. Besides, someone’s looking at you right now thinking, she’s so brave and her life is blessed. I wish I was her ;)

    Reply
  7. Kari

    You are amazing, Ashley. I’m so glad to have met you here and admire the way you always seem to handle stressful situations so gracefully : )

    Reply
    1. Ashley Post author

      I just laughed about this because of how many times you’ve seen me completely scatter brained, frantically DIY’ing my living room! haha

      Reply
  8. Xiaoyu

    You attitude towards your difficulties is really inspiring. I really admitre how strong you are and I hope that you find more ease from your troubles this year. From what it sounds like even in a moment like this, you’ve been able to find peace and happiness.

    Reply
  9. Laura

    I can only imagine how difficult this was for you to share – let alone live through. Through it all, though, you have kept creating such amazing things. Sugar & Cloth is my favorite place to turn for an inspiring dose of pretty – and I wish you all the best in the year to come!
    ~Laura

    Reply
  10. Jess McKinney

    That was beautifully written. I admire you for sharing your experience with your readers. Your message actually helped me a lot because I’m at a place in my life where I’m wondering why certain things haven’t happened for me yet (I am also 25 and I tend to play the comparison game *sigh*). But everyone’s life story unfolds differently in perfect timing and I know that God is going to open up some more truly wonderful doors for you. I love your blog and I genuinely appreciate your honesty. Keep up the amazing work and keep your chin up!

    Reply
  11. Nanette

    You.
    Are.
    Amazing.
    And you continually impress me with your loving nature, beautiful spirit, and overall kick-ass-ness. Blessed to be able to work with you. <3 Nanette

    Reply
  12. Rachel B

    This is just so incredible. Thank you so much for sharing this, and the incredible quotes to go with it! I think everyone always wants to show the most put-together side of them on the internet and by you sharing the real side of life with us, it just makes us fall in love with you even more. Thank you again!

    xoxo
    Rachel
    http://www.bowsandablonde.com

    Reply
  13. kat

    I admire your strength to share! You are stronger then you think. Coming from another Texas girl, I wish you the best of luck in this new year! xox

    Reply
  14. Diana

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing — and, can I say, what an incredibly brave post to write! I have really enjoyed following your lovely blog this past year, and the amount of work you put into each post really comes across. Hearing about your personal journey this past year, what really came across is what a strong person you are. Keep up the amazing work and best of luck in the new year!

    Reply
  15. bclaire

    Oh, my heart aches for you having to go through that. I never would have guessed based on the awesome content you put out that you’ve been going through such rough times. But the best part of heartbreak is the fresh start at the end. I hope your 2014 is happier and full of new, wonderful things. Love your blog and admire your strength in pushing through over the past year.

    Reply
  16. LL

    What a lovely, honest and heartfelt post. Every time I read something like this it inspires me to share more and be more vulnerable too. It’s what connects us as human beings after all, isn’t it?

    Onwards! May 2014 be bitchin’.

    Reply
  17. Sarah

    Thank you for sharing! I’m sure it was hard. It is hard to go through a rough patch with family so far away, but it sounds like you have a great support system! As another Texas transplant, I completely understand how hard it can be. But I know that 2014 is going to be a great year!

    Reply
  18. Bobbi

    I stumbled upon your blog only recently. This post set it in stone that I will be a regular attendee. The honesty and grace with which you wrote this is beyond amazing. I too had a terrible horrible heartbreaking 2013. It was my least favorite year of my life, and I’m STILL jumbling through it on into 2014. But, your post gives me hope. Your struggles were/are real, but you have so much beauty that flows out of you as well. I have learned the ONLY way to make it through this life is with God by your side.
    You are an amazing blogger. Thank you for choosing joy and being graceful. I don’t even know you, but am honored to read your blog. ♡

    Reply
  19. Kerrie

    Such a beautiful and honest post. It is quite clear that you are a gracious, strong, and humble woman. Life lessons aren’t lessons if we don’t learn anything from them. I’m so glad you can take the bad with the good and see the silver lining. Forgiving ourselves means loving ourselves and it’s really really important for us to love ourselves. xoxo

    Reply
  20. Amanda Qualls

    I love your blog, and while your crafts are the reason I came, you are the reason I stick around. You are such a fun and honest person, and my heart goes out to you for the challenges you faced in 2013. But with those challenges also came success, and I’m sure much more of that is coming in 2014–best wishes and warmest thoughts for you!

    Reply
  21. DriverB

    Thank you so much for this beautifully written post. I also went through a painful divorce in 2013, and am still feeling ‘strong and weak’ as I learn how to move forward. Welcome, 2014. I look forward to all the good things you have in store.

    Reply
  22. Cyd

    Girl, it brought back a whole bunch of really weird emotions when I read this post a few days ago. It’s been on my mind so I just wanted to pop over and throw my support in the ring. As a fellow young divorcée, I can relate to literally everything you’ve felt and have been feeling. My divorce, too, was undramatic and as amicable as such a thing can be, but it vastly changed the landscape of my universe. It’s such a hard thing to explain to those who have never been through it, but it changes you forever. Even when it’s needed, even when it’s welcomed, even when it’s a relief. It changes how you see yourself, how you assume others see you and it leaves you feeling this intense isolation that you never saw coming. At least that’s how it felt for me. Like I was some kind of freak show. Married and divorced three years later, all in my 20s. Not exactly the kind of thing you anticipate writing on your life resume.

    The sleeping. I remember the sleeping. How I didn’t ruin my career and end up bankrupt with no business during that time I’ll never know. I slept through more of late 2011 and early 2012 than I can even fathom, because it was simply the only way I could deal sometimes. (Dealing by not dealing. Classic.) But somehow little by little, things felt better, the new normal felt more like normal, and even though I look back and there are entire months that are blurry because I spent so much of them as a shell of myself, somehow the brighter days do come. And love comes again, too. In many different forms, but it comes again and it’s wonderful.

    Sending you big hugs and loads of good wishes for 2014! You’re going to knock it out of the park and feel amazing in no time. :-) xoxo

    Reply
  23. Sandhya

    “I am both weak and strong, but I choose to not give up.”

    Love that. Thank you for sharing and sending you good vibes. Love your blog!

    Reply
  24. courtney

    I just came across your blog and after reading this post I was hesitant to comment because I didn’t want my comment to just drown in the sea of other comments. I really, really want you to know that I am so thankful you took the time to write this post, pour out your heart and really share important truths with your readers.

    God’s grace is on you, and the gifts you have. I pray this year is better than last and His favor abounds in your life in more ways than you could ever imagine.

    Keep going, you are inspiring MANY.

    -Courtney

    Reply
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