#TheSummerOfGrace Introduction

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.
— Henry David Thoreau

I was watching a cheesy movie a few weeks ago and a quote struck me that made me think about my life and the work that I do...this work...that I love, that fills me up and gives me purpose and fuels my passions.  

"though we serve them, we are not their servants."

I have been feeling this way for a bit....  That I make myself available to take on, help with, work through SO many of the troubles of others that I have completely ignored the needs of myself and my family.  Maybe it is a little bit different this time around than last year.  

A year ago I walked away from something....something big.  It was my first be NO in a very long time.  It was a NO after many many YES's and then all of a sudden I had to say NO.  It didn't make sense, it didn't feel good (actually it felt awesome to me, but of course our NO effects others) to hurt people, it still causes issues....even a year later if you can believe it!  I know I am on the right track, I know I have direction and I know that I am so excited to finally stop before it starts and see what is actually on the other side of that wall!

After all the travel I have been doing these past few months, really since January was the first break I had on my calendar for months and months!  My body has once again shut down.  I was tired and depressed and super moody.  My body was mad at me and my well was dry.  I WAS SO DRY. 

So for a few weeks I didn't do much.  I sat around, finished up the rest of the school year with my kids, attended all of their end of year activities and counted down the days until we left on our week long family vacation....something that was LONG overdue.  I needed it, my family needed it.  It is amazing how you can miss people that you live in the same house with.  

Life does that.  It pulls us away from those closest to us if we don't make any effort to connect on a daily basis!  

It was an amazing time but even during this week in paradise I found myself having a hard time enjoying everything that was around me.  I found myself tired and wanting to stay in bed and not do anything.  I craved the quiet and the disconnect.  It has been SO long that I could disappear and not have people be able to find me.  

I had a few deadlines to meet while I was gone, a few work obligations that I needed to complete while I was out of town.  I brought my computer with EVERY intention of logging in and doing everything that I needed too....but what happened?  I got my computer out and it sat closed on the table...I just stared at it with NO desire, motivation or excitement to login to see what I had missed, to catch up on emails or to meet deadlines.  It sat there for a week, unopened!!  

When we returned home I was filled with anger and dislike for the responsibilities that were waiting for me and every phone call, email, text message, private message just made me physically ill....too much pull, too much need, too much giving and NO FILLING.  

My well was dry.  I was so dry.  I had nothing to give and people needed more from me and I literally had nothing to give.  It made me angry....

"how selfish are all of these people that put so many demands on me...I am ONE person...I am so empty and dry but they just keep asking, keep demanding, keep taking."

UM HELLO ASHLEY!!!!!  

Why are they doing that??  

BECAUSE I FREAKING LET THEM!!!!!!!!!!  

I have control over my life.  I have the power to say no, I have the right to make decisions for my life FREE OF GUILT.  I have the right to follow my true passions and walk away from things that suck me totally dry, that leave me empty and sad.  

After I got home I had a conversation with my dear friend and told her everything I was feeling.  We had support group coming up and I couldn't bring myself to even want to go and help others, to listen to others, to serve others.  The more we talked about the group, the community, the responsibility the more angry I got, the more tired I felt, the more empty I was......she said "I got this, don't worry."  

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS I said ok and walked away from the obligation with no guilt.

I made a decision that was BEST for me and I said that I couldn't go.  That I didn't want to.  That I couldn't give any more.  I didn't care what others thought, I didn't worry about whether or not they were going to be mad that I wasn't there, I didn't stress about her ability to do what needed to be done.  

Saying yes to something that you don’t want to do doesn’t make you a good person, it makes you a liar.
— Ashley Mitchell, Big Tough Girl™

I realized that saying yes over and over, trying to do everything, to serve where I could, to never let anyone feel like they didn't have support was killing me.  I ended up doing things with great resentment and that doesn't make me a good person, that makes me a liar.  

SO what does all of this have to do with #TheSummerOfGrace ?  

I am going to tell you right now!!!!! 

I am excited to announce my new blog series.  My husband and kids will also be the authors of this series.  

10 weekends

10 locations in UTAH (where we live)

#TheSummerOfGrace

My husband and I decided that I was going to clear my calendar for the summer.  That I was going to say NO to everything new that came up and that I was removing previous commitments and obligations from my schedule.  I walked away from planned events, dinners, meetings, travel and more to make sure that I was here and home and present for myself and my family!!  

Does that sound selfish?  I think it sounds healthy.  

Do I feel guilty?  Yes but I am working on letting that go.

Do we really have to time or money to do this?  NO but we are doing it anyway!

We sat down as a family and selected 10 places in UTAH that we wanted to visit, some silly and random, some amazing and breathtaking, some historical and important.  

We have 5 that are just "day trips" and 5 that will require us to take a night, either in hotel or tent.  

Our family name is GRACE but the literal definition of Grace is:  Simple Elegance

Oh my goodness...that sounds so heavenly already!!!  If you have been following me at all you know that SIMPLICITY is truly one of my greatest goals in life....one true accomplishment that I would be proud of...I don't know if that is something that can be obtained but I am going to die trying!  

So enter the summer blog series of simple elegance, of time together as a family in some of God's greatest creations.  A summer of NO and guilt free decisions that are MINE to make for me and my family.  A summer of reconnecting with my spouse and kids, a summer of self discovery and awareness, a summer of health and healing and LIVING. 

We are excited to share this adventure with you!  We will post Mondays about our weekend adventures together...

I hope this will inspire you to do WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.  To say no more and yes to things that light you up....that keep you connected to those that are most important to you.  To let go of the things that you can't do and to find those that FILL YOUR BUCKET WHEN YOU ARE EMPTY!!!!  

xoxo,  The Grace Family.  

Follow us on IG for more updates as well.  @bigtoughgirl