Just Go Left

Our Trip to Tahoe....I Mean Kirkwood


Things you do not tell a Tahoe local:

"We're going to Tahoe!"

When you're going to Kirkwood.

They are different, no matter how much you protest that "it's the mountains, so it's basically the same thing." Kirkwood, as it turns out, is an hour outside Tahoe but it's just as beautiful. We drove up early Friday morning (with a quick stop to our favorite bakery, Schat's), spent the evening with Kyle's family and celebrated his cousin's wedding on Saturday. It was such a fun-filled trip with lots of quality time and lots of meeting extended family members (I was exhausted by the time we got home from the wedding).

We put together a little video of our trip, which provides a better recap than I ever could. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Hour Hangout vol 1


We are on our way to Tahoe today…..well not Tahoe exactly…technically we’re going to a town called called Kirkwood, which 1 hour outside Tahoe so I’m rounding up and saying we’re going to Tahoe. It’s a 6 hour drive (we are waking up at 5 a.m. to hit the road early) which initially I was not excited about until I remembered that we just drove across the effing country and 6 hours is NOTHING compared to the 19 HOURS OF DRIVING we did from Oxford, Mississippi to Amarillo, Texas while lugging a trailer filled with our belongings. 6 hours is an effing cake walk. Plus, Kyle is driving so……

Follow our weekend on Snapchat (username: ashtengoesleft) and Instagram (username: justgoleft_).

Before we dive into today’s post, you simply must know that this topic was approved (and encouraged) by the delightful Amber of Mr. Thomas and Me. We spend most of our days chatting bouncing different blog ideas back and forth, brainstorming and when Friday seemed particularly blank in Just Go Left Land (it’s a place, just like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), she suggested I invite you all to Happy Hour…..and I loved it so much I decided to do it.

(You’ll quickly realize this post looks similar to her Coffee Dates, hence my desire to note her approval and encouragement of the topic.)

So, let’s pretend it’s 5 p.m. (it is, somewhere after all) and we’re sitting at a little beach side bar sipping cocktails and basking in the sun…..Gatsby can be there too, if you want. Let’s pretend it’s one of those perfectly sunny Fridays where the temp is about 70-75 degrees and the only thing we have planned is to enjoy each other’s company. Maybe we would be here, which ironically is where Amber and I had our first blogger date.

Oh and in this scenario we also have a sober driver…..I voted and Kyle lost so he’s driving so feel free to indulge. Safety First!

If we were at Happy Hour…...I would be drinking a Moscow Mule, but only if it comes in a copper mug. Is there even a point to drinking a Moscow Mule if it’s not in a copper mug? My answer is no. In fact, Nicole and Hayley of Local Love 805 just gave me two brand new copper mugs for my birthday and now I can’t stop making Moscow Mules…..so if I turn into an alcoholic, blame them. If the mule isn’t served in a copper mug? Well, then I guess I would be drinking a mojito because I love them, but only second to mules.

If we were at Happy Hour…..I would confess that I have joined the FitBit cult. I bought myself this one for my birthday and I now check my step count consistently. I. AM. ADDICTED.  I would defend myself by telling you there are worse things one can be addicted to and that I never realized how important movement is until I got this thing. And truthfully? My FitBit has put the fun back in movement for me…mostly because I’m in like 3 different challenges and we all know competition motivates me like none other.

I just realized all we’ve talked about are my potential addictions…..does this mean I have an actual problem?

Never mind, let’s keep drinking.

If we were at Happy Hour…...I would share this post by Jillian Harris with you because I have a total girl crush on her and this post is just too cute not to share. I would casually say “I know I’m not engaged yet but when I am? This is the kind of bachelorette party I would want” because just seems like the most fun combination of party and pampering. Also BRUNCH. I would then go on about all the reasons why I love Jillian: she’s hilarious, she’s got great style and the best part? She has a boxer. His name is Nacho Cilantro (if you click that it will take you to his Instagram and you might never return). And I love him. I would ask who your girl crush(es) is (are) and why. I mean, we all need a girl crush….or at least someone we admire for one reason or another.

If we were at Happy Hour…....I would ask you how you handle writer’s block. I would confess that it happens to me more often than not these days; with work, commuting and my feeble attempts to have a social life, sometimes writing just doesn’t come as easily as it used to. I would ask what you do to inspire and motivate yourself when the words don’t come out right and the thoughts in your noggin get all backed up? If you have tips I would probably ask if I could pull out my giant planner and write some of them down…because that’s the only way I will remember them…if they’re written in my planner.

If we were at Happy Hour…..I would definitely pay for the first round. I’m learning that I find a lot of joy in doing nice things for others. It makes me happy to see the smile on someone’s face when a random act of kindness is bestowed on them, big or small. It literally makes my heart swell up with happiness to do something kind for someone else. And I would insist, no matter how much you tried to convince me otherwise.

If we were at Happy Hour…..I would ask what your top 5 TV shows are. This might make or break our friendship, but it’s okay to share anyway. TV shows somehow always come up in conversation with me; maybe because that’s all we do at my house, especially at night. Here are my top 5 (of all time) in case you were wondering: Sopranos, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Friday Night Lights, Sex and the City. Can we still be friends?

Lessons from Under the Microscope


A note before we begin:

Today I'm being featured on one of my favorite blogs: Ember Grey! Emily is one of my favorite ladies in blogland: she's inspiring, she's funny and she doesn't take herself too seriously. Click here to read my post. If you're joining me from Emily's blog today, WELCOME!! I'm so glad you're here!

I've found one bad thing about moving home: having to get a new doctor. Specifically, having to get a new "lady doctor".

Yeah, we're going there today. But not in the way you might think....so please bear with me.

I'm sure there are way more vulnerable situations one can find themselves in on a Wednesday afternoon, but for me, going to the "lady doctor" was it. I realize I'm 32 years old but yes the "lady doctor" still makes me nervous, anxious really. Having to divulge all that personal information to someone I don't know, answer ALL the uncomfortable questions....among other things......ugh, it's so awkward.

I had a knot in my stomach all morning leading up to my appointment. I walked slowly into the office and reluctantly stepped on the scale (did not like what it said, in case you were wondering)....and then I waited. And waited. And waited.

......and then I waited.....again.


By the time the doctor walked in I had worked myself up into a full-blown tizzy. I hate this part, the "hi my name is Ashten here are all the personal things that only like 2 people know about me" part. She pulled out my folder and started "getting to know me". Nervously I played with the gown, quietly answering each of her uncomfortable questions to the best of my ability. With each answer I felt myself getting smaller and smaller on the table, my legs swinging nervously back and fourth, my eyes darting back and fourth. It's an uncomfortable thing; being so vulnerable with someone you don't know. You find yourself wondering what the other person thinks about you; whether their opinion of you changes the more questions you answer. Being vulnerable makes you feel "oily"; like you want to slide out of your own skin....like it's not yours and it doesn't fit all of a sudden.

I think the doctor must have sensed my nervousness (it was incredibly obvious) because suddenly she asked: "so, do you have any pets?"

"Yes ma'am," I said, glad we had something else to talk about, "his name is Gatsby and he's a Lab/Great Pyrenees Mix."

Want to make things less awkward? Ask me about me dog.

And then she started telling me about her pets: two cats and three dogs, to be specific. We started talking about my cross-country move, how she's moving into a new home after a break-up and how stressful moves and break-ups are. Suddenly, I wasn't the only one being vulnerable. Suddenly, the appointment wasn't as nerve-wracking and awkward anymore because I wasn't the only one sharing uncomfortable, personal things. 

No one ever wants to walk into a "lady doctor" appointment (if you're me) or an uncomfortable situation feeling alone. No one wants to feel like they're the only one going through something or the only one who is scared. Sometimes, having someone there to say "here's what I'm going through, and sometimes I'm scared too" can make all the difference or bring some light to someone in darkness. I've learned that not everyone can relate to my struggles, and sometimes I can't relate to theirs, but I can be the kind of person who listens and empathizes, just like my new doctor did for me. I've learned that sometimes, just having another person say "me too" is all the help I need.

Vulnerability is best met with kindness, understanding and a whole lot of empathy. It thrives in "me too", it grows in love and thrives in whole-heartedness.

So, when someone gets vulnerable or shares something hard with you, be kind.

Or, if you're me, just ask me about my dog.

I guess I could have called this post "Gatsby Saves the Day". Damn it, another missed opportunity.

Celebrate Anyway

Ashten Loves Local, Adventures, Choosing JoyAshtenComment

A note before we begin: 

I just want to say something to everyone who wished me a happy birthday on Thursday. Whether you texted, called, Tweeted, Facebooked or Instagramed you made me feel really, really special. From the bottom of my heart, thank you: you all made my day.

We were supposed to go to Yosemite over the weekend to celebrate my birthday. The plans came up last minute, but I jumped in to them with zealous enthusiasm. It was going to a short trip: drive up Friday night, spend all day Saturday, drive back Sunday but it might as well have been the vacation of the year as far as I was concerned; partially because it was my birthday (and I LOVE birthdays), partially because I have been itching for a camping trip for awhile and partially because S'MORES. Kyle and I started pulling out all our camping gear, making a shopping list for a CostCo run and planning which trails we were going to hike. We were so, so, so excited.  

On Friday morning our plans got cancelled. 

It was something out of our control; something we couldn't have planned for or seen coming but I was super bummed. Not only was it supposed to be my birthday celebration but it was going to be such a fun adventure. Our cancelled plans put me in a funk, I'm not gonna lie. I had worked myself into a little tizzy over taking this trip that not being able to go totally ruined my weekend.

I hate when things go wrong. I absolutely hate it, especially when things go wrong at the last minute. It infuriates me when I have to sit out because of something entirely out of my control when it's something I've been looking forward to (albeit for 24 hours). By now you know I'm super Type A, super organized and when it comes to plans I like them to be well thought out with several back-ups in case something goes wrong. My initial reaction when things don't go right is to regress into a negative way of thinking; to pout, to fuss, to shut down and accept my fate. I am preconditioned to think of the negative before anything else; I am preconditioned to think the sky is falling the second something doesn't go right. Sometimes I even take these things personally; like I'm not good enough or worthy of good things happening to me.

After letting our cancelled plans ruin my Friday, I woke up Saturday morning, pulled out our camping chairs and drank my coffee in the sunshine and read on our porch. I made my favorite breakfast, took Gatsby for a long walk and forced myself to make the best of it. There will always be other birthdays, other camping trips but nothing is worth ruining a perfectly good weekend of gorgeous weather. My birthday was still celebrated and joy was still chosen. We spent Sunday in Carpinteria, 20 minutes from our house, splashing in the waves, eating burgers and walking around the little town. We clinked our post-beach ice cream cones together and toasted to another year of choosing joy and celebrating even when things don't go right.

Life doesn't always give us a perfect 10. Sometimes we're dealt a 3 or a 5, but even though it sucks, there are always reasons to celebrate and always, always something to be thankful for: it's our job to find it and celebrate accordingly.

I'm Feelin' 32

Choosing Joy, PersonalAshtenComment

I had make an emergency run to the grocery store over the weekend (I didn’t buy enough wine for my Fireball Sangria; first and last time I make that mistake!). I was the definition of a “hot mess”: hair thrown up in a messy bun (emphasis on messy), old yoga pants, no make-up and flip-flops I’ve had since 2010. After a morning of cleaning the apartment for our guests, I was also sweaty and possibly woozy from inhaling all the cleaning supplies. It was a gorgeous sight to behold. I bee-lined for the wine section (a section I’m no stranger to, mind you), grabbed the goods and made my way to check out. The cashier was a lady maybe in her mid-forties who, after scanning the wine looked up at me and said “ID please?”

 I pulled my ID out of my wallet and gave my usual “please don’t judge me on my awful photo” spiel and thanked her for carding me, as all women do once they’ve passed the age of 30.

 “There is no way this is accurate,” she said, looking at my ID skeptically, “your birth year has to be incorrect.”

 “No, it’s correct. I had bangs in that picture but I’m trying to grow them out now. And my birthday is on Thursday the 16th. I’ll be 32.”

 She looked back at my ID, then back at me. She stared at me with judgmental mom eyes. Then she bagged up my wine, took another look at me and said:

 “I need to know your secret.”

 I smiled the kind of smile only a woman who has just been told she looks younger than she is can smile.

 “I guess I’m just young at heart,” I joked, “you made my day, though. Thank you.”

 “I thought you were about 24 years old,” she said, “Have a nice day, young lady.”

 I left the store with a little extra pep in my step. When I got home I told Kyle all about how I was mistaken for a younger woman, to which he replied “yeah but did you get the wine?”

 Men, they don’t get it.

On the eve of my 32nd year, I’m feeling very Taylor Swift-ish. Like I might wake up tomorrow morning and starting singing “I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU BUT I’M FEELING THIRTY TWO!” I didn’t feel like this a week ago…..I may or may not have laid in bed in the fetal position bitching about how 32 felt like such an insignificant age and how I was feeling the sting of smile wrinkles and a metabolism that is slower than traffic on the 101 South on a Friday. But I had a change of heart on Saturday as I stood in that check-out line and that wonderful woman told me I looked 24.

 When I was a little girl, I always wished I was older. When I was 13, I wanted to be 16 so I could drive a car. When I was 16, I wanted to be 18 so I could excuse my own absences from school. When I was 18 I wanted to be 21 for obvious reasons. At 21, I wanted to be 30 because it sounded cooler and then I turned 30 and I was like “whoa, where did the time go?” I was so busy trying to rush through life to get to the next chapter that I forgot to embrace the here and now. Now I’m officially “older” and I’m wondering where the time went; wishing I could go back and do it all over again. I’m learning to be fully present in my current chapter I’m in, even if that chapter means smile wrinkles and metabolizing last Thanksgiving’s dinner six months later.   It’s about finding the good in each year, learning new lessons and embracing personal growth.

 I’m entering the 32nd chapter of my life, and damn it I’m excited. This is going to be a full year, which will add to my already full life. So tomorrow I’m going to throw some confetti on the bushes outside my house, have a couple of dance parties, eat some hibachi and spend the next 365 days embracing this new year.

 ….and also celebrate that I still look 24. Nope, not getting over that any time soon.