Digging the Way Out, Learning Joy and Finding the Inner Superhero
Who are you, sister? Tell us a little about yourself. Hi and Aloha to the Stratejoy family! I’m Ash. I’m from Washington, DC, Hawaii, and the molten Earth’s core. I’m 33 years old and a practicing Witch, Writer, and Musician.
Three years ago at the age of 30, my life fell apart when I remembered intense family trauma that my mind and body couldn’t handle. I was on disability for two years. It was humiliating (when I was lucid). I judged myself so harshly.
For the past year and a half I’ve been digging myself out of the hole of mental disability.
I’ve had to cut a lot of my family and old friends out of my life. This would have made 12 year old me think of myself as a failure.
But, learning to love myself has meant proving this untrue, and giving that 12 year old me as many hugs as she needs, as often as she needs. Sometimes she squirms.
For the past 6 months, I’ve lived with extended family. It’s humbling, but educational while I come back to putting myself on my own feet again.
My mother surprisingly was and is the biggest villain in my life, and I created mutant superpowers to combat her – radical honesty, fearlessness in the face of shadows, resilience no matter how many times she or the world breaks me in pieces. I used to admire Storm, from the X-Men. Now I am a superhero in my own right. None of it was easy and all of it sucked, but heroes are forged from the ashes of what your villains burn down.
What I didn’t know, once I’d put myself back together enough times, was exactly how to move forward. I didn’t have an X-Men tribe to help me find purpose, direction, or value in myself again. And that is how The Joy Equation helped save my life. I found in this tribe a group of other fearless, badass superheroes led by our own lady Xavier and I couldn’t be happier with how the course turned out for me.
Let’s do some one word answers. Ready, set, go!
Morning Drink? WATER. Preferably local spring water.
Indulgence? League of Legends. I’m not so much of a melee person but give me a good mage and I’m gold <3.
Lusting after? Japan. I need it, the trees, the ocean, the temples, the sweets, the food, the trains, the pastries, the theater, everything.
Spirit Animal? Cardinals – I once had a three hour conversation (shamanism stuff) with a cardinal. Now they only show up for me when I need to trust my gut with whatever I was just thinking – and doubting myself – about.
Head Space? Creating, building.
Heart Space? Feeling, vulnerability, openness, being present with everything.
Bloom of Choice? It’s not a flower but banana trees make me super happy – I think I make them happy, too <3.
Turn-on? Compassion and understanding.
Go-to Gemstone? Amethyst
Celebrity Icon? Angelina Jolie, she’s lovely and really scary honest.
Favorite Compliment? “You’re lovely”.
What does practicing joy mean to you? I’m still learning. I’ve found as a survivor of intense trauma that a lot of things that should “feel good” hurt instead when I feel them. I’m learning that this doesn’t mean they don’t feel good. It means to keep going until the feeling good replaces the hurt.
So, I build, and it hurts because of all the years I spent not building and trying to be “perfect” for my abusive family. I focus on myself and have only recently begun to start paying attention to my needs. I love crafting, but my mother always called it stupid. I love writing, she called it pointless. I love creating, and it just wasn’t good enough for her. And, I love camping and hiking and talking with plants.
For me, practicing joy is one moment at a time. “How do I feel now?” And course correcting if I’ve drifted into apathy or hollowness. Asking myself what I need. And giving myself lots of hugs and support.
And connecting with joyful people. That is huge.
Biggest life lesson you’ve learned lately? Gosh, I had a big one just today. At the end of a surrealist movie I love called Revolutionary Girl Utena, the heroines’ friends help them escape their “pretend world” to create a revolution – then all the friends, everyone in the world they left, turns to straw. It’s intense! It’s a great movie.
The thing I realized is that… not everyone is going to come with you when you improve. Your circle gets tighter, your focus narrows, and the people that had your back may decide to stay behind instead of joining you. Then – they disappear. As if they were never there at all (if you’ve gone far enough). That’s intense!
There’s a lot of grief and sorrow in this separation for me, and realizing that even though I’m not in their lives anymore, they’re happy. Don’t look back. Keep going.
What’s your definition of success? Revolutionizing the world.
Name 3 things from your Life List that light you up.
Becoming an edgy rock musician and performer.
Birthing lovely children with my musician husband-to-come.
Enjoying a life full of full of music studios and production, promotions and creation.
What do you do when life gets messy? I share. I have to talk it out! I have to share my feelings with trusted lady friends, advisors, and mentors. I try not to be avoidant! Staying present is both a challenge and a lovely thing.
3 songs, 3 books, 3 Instagram accounts
“Inner Universe” by Yoko Kanno & Origa
“Season’s Call” by Hyde
“Parabol + Parabola” by Tool
How are you going to change the world?I’m going to bleed into it. I’ve started to realize that I’m an artist and a musician and that’s the kind of art that I make – the kind of art that pulls you open, or pulls you near, or brings you back to life with breath. Life pulls life and in order to find what I want, I’ve got to give everything I am.
Put plainly, art + music are what changes the world for me. [disclaimer: please do not literally bleed on anything.]
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? “Don’t take everything so seriously.” I take everything so seriously!
Word of the Year: Building
Book That Made a Difference: Revolutionary Girl Utena by Chiho Saito
Currently Obsessed: I’m pretty obsessed with Steven Universe right now.
Can’t Live Without: My laptop