Author Ashley P. Smith: “Imagine a world where one minute of silence was mandatory; A world where everyone was required to pause, be still and be present”

“I believe that time is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself. Time to be more fully present,” says Oprah Winfrey. Imagine a world where 1 minute of silence was mandatory. A world where everyone was required to pause, be still and be present. Imagine if more people made time to focus […]

“I believe that time is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself. Time to be more fully present,” says Oprah Winfrey. Imagine a world where 1 minute of silence was mandatory. A world where everyone was required to pause, be still and be present. Imagine if more people made time to focus on what it is that brings them happiness? Imagine the magic that could come of that one moment in time? Be still, be present and for the love….Whine Down! This is my mission.

As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Ashley P. Smith. Ashley was born and raised a southern girl with nothing more than an average upbringing and a fiery passion to bring about a movement for women to embrace the value of time. She is proud to have created a social empire that connects like-minded women who share their desire to prioritize time for themselves because, let’s face it, we are all better people when we do! This movement began when her fingertips met her iPhone notepad at 3am while nursing her second child. “I know I should be patient with my oh-so independent two-year-old,” she thought, “but there is no time for patience when I have to be at work in less than 10 minutes.” Most mornings she rushed through the house, juggling a multitude of chores, all before 8:00am. She rarely took the time to calm her mind, heart and soul to seize the current moment. When she realized this anxious feeling was a common struggle among her fellow female friends, the Whine Down story was born. Parenting is exceptionally rewarding but it doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges. Through the Whine Down movement and a series of comical books, Ashley hopes to make light the difficulties of parenting, while also encouraging all the selfless moms to embrace the art of selfishness and prioritize time for themselves. The human potential is incredible, especially for moms who are the wonder-women of the world. Every day, we go above and beyond to meet the needs of others, often at the expense of meeting your own. It’s high time you prioritize your own happiness by making and creating time for yourself. When you do, your family will be the direct beneficiaries of your investment! Embrace the Art of Selfishness, Mama, and Whine Down!

Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

If you had asked me when I was 8 what I wanted to be when I grow up, never in a million years would I have said an author or a speaker but here I am today writing and speaking. I spent 13 years in the ever-demanding field of medical device sales. Serving others in need by offering products to facilitate a healthier and happier life was fulfilling for quite some time but then I noticed a shift in the medical industry. Patients were not able to get the care they needed because they couldn’t afford it. Medical companies were charging outrageous prices for products that cost pennies and people were suffering. Representing an industry that supposedly offered health “care” but rather actively promoted health “greed” left me feeling immoral and ultimately empty inside. I’m a big believer that your soul speaks to you through longings, hopes, desires and my soul hoped for so much more. My soul, hoped to heal, to help and to offer happiness in a world that offered so little in each of those categories, but FEAR stood in the way of me pausing and listening to what my soul spoke. I was trapped in the golden handcuffs of earning a decent living that paid the bills but didn’t feed my soul. I was too scared too make the LEAP and pursue a career that might potentially put my family in a financial bind. What if we couldn’t pay our mortgage? What if we couldn’t afford child care? The what if’s in life are legit and can keep you from becoming the best version of you. It wasn’t until I found my voice that my career took off and provided me the platform to write my book Whine Down and speak about the importance of making time to listen to your heart. My hope is that I, along with everyone else never stops growing up, changing, developing and prospering. You never know what you could become if you choose to GROW!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

Always! My latest project is a HUGE movement I hope to share with the world near and around Mother’s Day. The title is called the Glass Vessel. Through this movement my goal is to define exactly what the vessel is. We will then diagnose its fragility and what makes it crack. I will share with you what’s inside the vessel and why it’s so important to always keep your vessel full. Finally, we will create and design our own vessels as reminder to gage our levels and make sure we are consistently working towards keeping our vessel full. When our levels are full, so is our life!

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?

According to best-selling author Bob Goff’s grandmother, “You’re nothing until you’ve been fired once or twice.” I took on the assumption that her adage applied to me too. I was canned from my medical device job not because I didn’t perform well but because I spoke up when the company offered the “open door” policy. The open-door policy is great if you are a great leader. A great leader demands advice and adapts well to change. A not so great leader extends an open-door policy but does not accept or hear the advice given. The corporate company I represented did not offer a paid maternity leave but instead honored a leave of absence. You were required to use your vacation days to bring life into the world or take an unpaid leave of absence. Let’s be real, in today’s world, a dual income is almost necessary to survive much less thrive. After scraping by for a measly 6 weeks with no pay and certainly no Christmas for my family, I returned from having a child and made it known to my organization that it was imperative to offer a 6 week minimum paid maternity leave package to young women in the child bearing age should the company desire to keep motivated female professionals on board. Unfortunately, the company did not agree with my advice and in fact they more-or-less deemed me as being a whiney “Why Me” advocate. I was terminated shortly after my plea. Sure, it hurts to get canned when your sales numbers speak otherwise. It hurts because you are vested in the organization and you have relationships you’ve worked hard to develop. Self-doubt can easily creep in and you can find yourself worried about what your peers, colleagues, customers think of you. However, the more I thought about the situation the more a fire burned in my belly. The fire of fearless leaders like Rosa Parks who said NO to make a stance for what’s right. Leaders like Harriett Tubman who paved a road to safety in an unsafe environment. I may have been canned for voicing my opinion and standing up for what’s right, but I left knowing that I spoke up for what I believed in my heart was fair. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” From the sting of being “Fired” I found my voice. I found a platform for which I published a book on and from what I speak about on a regular basis. I found out who I was meant to be and I proudly share the importance of making time to Whine Down on a regular basis! I will not be silent. I will speak out. I was made for more.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23. I’m not going to go all crazy Christian on you BUT there is a LOT of merit to this passage. True beauty comes from within. If Americans are dissatisfied with their appearance, perhaps we need to gage the levels within our vessel? Are Americans making time to pursue what brings them joy? Are Americans tuning into the longing their soul is requesting? Or, are we too distracted by the ways of the world? Instagram is not going to make you feel better about yourself. Facebook will not make you feel better about yourself. If you are not making time to tune out the noise of the world and tune into your heart, then your vessel may soon run dry.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

You cannot give love from an empty vessel. Your heart is the wellspring of life. If you are longing for a life filled with happiness, you will not be able to find it in any one thing, any one place, or anyone period, until you find it in yourself first. How do you perceive yourself? Are you happy being the human you were created to be? If not, why? Start here my friend. Work towards loving you as it is imperative to better love others.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

Again, I encourage everyone to look within to find the real answer to this question. How do you perceive yourself? What does your vessel look like? Is it half empty? If so, a mediocracy may seem better than nothing. If it’s half full, you may have hope that there is better for you out there but still you may not take the necessary steps to make the change. Either way it is up to you and you only to fill your own soul cup first. No man or woman can do that for you. When you find value in yourself, you will realize that you are worthy of only the best and you won’t settle for less.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times, self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

Without darkness there would never be light. If we didn’t experience dark times, we would never learn to appreciate the good times or light. No one desires to live in the dark. We all want and strive to live a life of happiness but if we can’t embrace the darkness, look it in the eye, acknowledge it, we can never work our way back into the light. Once again, you must turn within and see what it is that is keeping you from moving into the light? What is holding you back. What crack within your vessel needs attention? There is no specific question for all humans as everyone’s soul longs for something different. Perhaps you had a troubled past that you haven’t embraced, acknowledged or addressed. Maybe you’ve not been happy in a career that has seemingly sucked the life out of you and that emptiness or frustration is spilling over into areas of your life that do bring you joy. Taking time to self-reflect I was able to uncover the delicate areas of where my vessel had been shattered. I knew I wanted more but the uncertainty of maintaining the lifestyle we were living kept me from pursuing my dreams and ultimately finding happiness. Fear of the “what if’s” in life often hold us hostage to living a life inside our comfort zone although in most cases the snowball of joy happens when you look within, take action and make the leap to step into OZ! This is a place called Outside the Zone! You are never at your best when you live life inside your comfort zone. It’s scary, it’s uncertain, it’s the unknow; but it’s worth it! I invite you all to experience the magical place called OZ! Once you do, you will never turn back! Listen, Leap and then LOVE the person you can become when you make time for your heart to speak.

So many don’t really know how to be alone or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)? The unknown or uncertain is scary, no doubt. We live in a fast pace world. Mail is delivered in seconds. Food can be delivered to your door in minutes. Orders can be delivered same day. You can be connected with someone clear across the globe with the click of one button. Imagining a place where you slow down and confine yourself to solitude is mysterious, strange and frankly uncomfortable for so many because we don’t know what it is like. However, there’s a lot of magic that can happen in a moment of silence. In many cases, the ways of the world distract us from hearing the longings of our soul. Or, we sometimes have the ability to hear them, but we put society’s needs above our own and once again choose not to show up for ourselves. When we can tune out the noise of the world and tune into our hearts this is when we can really analyze the integrity of our vessel. If you can embrace a moment of silence, listen to your heart, your inner compass will always point you in the right direction.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

If you feel as though your relationships are not where they should be, look within. What is your relationship like with yourself? How do you feel about yourself? You are worthy of loving yourself and it is only with a full vessel that you will be able to love and connect with others on a deeper level.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

It’s simple. I know what you’re thinking it’s not that easy. No, I said it is simple not easy. Live a simpler life. Eliminate the worldly distractions that keep you from making the time to turn within. Tune out the noise and tune into your heart. Live simply. Years ago, there was a lot less pain in the world and a lot more happiness. People lived simply. We didn’t have the means to be connected so fast, but if we really think about the news we receive so “quickly” is the majority of that news good or bad? Tune out the noise, tune into your heart. Live simply.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

Keep in mind, these are strategies that feed my soul. What feeds my soul may not feed yours. A few of these exercises can help everyone like being still and listening to your own heart but really take the time to listen to what your heart needs and make time to pursue those longings.

  1. “Business Review” of how I spent my time and how I can do better the next day before bed. Living to your fullest potential doesn’t begin first thing in the morning. For me, it starts the night before. Best businesses thrive by working their plan. They plan their work and work their plan. I like to think about my time, how I spent it and if I was able to accomplish what I hoped to accomplish. If not, how can I improve upon my time spent tomorrow. As a busy mom of three, I’m pulled in all different directions. However, I need a plan to maximize my Whine Down time and that begins before bed.
  2. Meditate or Read before bed. Quietness is a rarity around my house being a mother of 3 little ones, but a lot of magic can happen in a moment of silence so for me a guided meditation helps me to still my mind and bring about clarity. Reading is another great way I can escape from the noise of the day. It’s also a great way for me to gear up for my next technique as I quickly feel my eyelids become heavier and heavier in a moment of silence.
  3. 8 hours of sleep (REST is BEST) Rest is so important! I’m an early to bed; early to rise kind of girl. Some people say they don’t require much rest. Truth is, even GOD needed rest. He needed rest and so he created a day, SUNDAY, to rest. We all need rest and it is up to us to make time to rest our weary bodies. I try to get a full 8 hours of sleep as I function best when I do get that amount of rest (yes, I’m a diva in this department).
  4. Rise early before anyone (5 am wake up)/ Drink Coffee and Do Devotion). I rise early before anyone else in my house so I can enjoy my coffee and devotion in complete silence. I read Girlfriends in God daily devotion every morning as for me, my faith in a higher being gives me hope like none other. This is another time where I can quiet my soul, tune into my heart and truly listen to what my soul speaks to me. It is in this moment I can reflect on my vessel, identify any cracks/leaks and make the necessary adjustments to mend those cracks. I need a full cup. My family needs a full cup and that is why I choose to prioritize my Whine Down Time, so no one gets leftovers!
  5. Exercise for 20 minutes- After coffee and devotion, I get my quick workout in. Even if it is just 20 minutes. Twenty minutes of movement is better than nothing. As busy parents, we often need to shift our perspective of what our workouts look like. It might not be that hour-long Barre class or hour and a half of hot yoga, but rather a fast pace grind of 100 burpees in your living room. Or a 5-minute-long wall sit and planks. Any movement you can do is better than none! Get your groove on mama!

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

I have a huge girl crush on Rachel Hollis! I LOVE her book Girl Wash Your Face which uncovers the lies we tell ourselves that make us feel unworthy. Sometimes the biggest battle we face when it comes to happiness is truly the lies, we feed ourselves. We are often our own worst critic. The other woman I’ve always been in love with is Oprah Winfrey. I love her Super Soul Conversations podcasts. There is one episode that really hit home for me and that was Wes Moore’s talk on Is Your Job Your Life’s Purpose? Wes was given a lucrative job on Wallstreet in finance under Condoleezza Rice after he came back from serving in the military. He didn’t grow up with a lot of money so this was an opportunity of a lifetime to earn a more than stable living in a prestigious career. Wes was given advice by a former mentor, president Brody that stuck with me. President Brody asked Wes what he was going to do with his life after he got back from Afghanistan and Wes informed him that he was going to work at Wallstreet because it would be a great financial bonus for his family, and he could take great care of his grandparents and build a name for himself being around such intelligent people. President Brody said, really? Not once did you mention you were doing this job out of PASSION. He said he wouldn’t place judgement on his decision to work there especially if he felt it was in his family’s best interest, but he said this ONE statement that profoundly struck me. He said, the moment that you feel that you need to leave that place, then leave. Because every moment you stay longer than you have to, you will become extraordinarily ordinary. We all spend our time trying to be extraordinary but falling into handcuffs of life because you are fearful of the what if’s cripples your ability to live with purpose.

The above is a little older but still very relevant and meaningful in my life. Here’s the latest below:

Michelle Obama’s book was truly inspiring to me in so many ways. Growing up in the deep south where Red is the only right way, I would have been sworn off by friends and family for even picking up this book. However, stepping out of my comfort zone to gain a better understanding about the unfamiliar was one step in the right direction. Little did I know I would learn so much about the opposition but more importantly I had no idea how much Michelle and I had in common. I respect this woman so very much for being vulnerable enough to express her frustrations of leading a life that was not true to herself. She had collected much debt to become what society deemed as being honorable. She became a lawyer but ultimately, it didn’t bring her happiness. It wasn’t until she stepped into OZ that she found herself and was able to BECOME the powerhouse Michelle Obama we love and respect today! If I had 3 thumbs she would get it with her incredible story!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

“I believe that time is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself. Time to be more fully present,” says Oprah Winfrey. Imagine a world where 1 minute of silence was mandatory. A world where everyone was required to pause, be still and be present. Imagine if more people made time to focus on what it is that brings them happiness? Imagine the magic that could come of that one moment in time? Be still, be present and for the love….Whine Down! This is my mission.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

When you hear the word NO, don’t STOP, but GROW. (Ashley P. Smith) In life, society will inevitably give you their opinion. Friends and family may say that’s not a good idea. You may experience push back from the world but any time you hear the word NO, don’t let that deter you from experiencing God’s greatest plan for you. If you hear the word no, learn from it. Perhaps you need to make adjustments or find a detour but don’t stop and think you’ve hit a dead end. Grow from your experience and run faster towards your dreams. Friend and author, Josie Bissett says, “Dreams come a size too big, so that you may grow into them.” When you hear the word no, don’t stop, but GROW!

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

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