Sunday, 3 November 2013


This week’s guest post on Education comes from Ashley from The Stork and the Beanstalk. Not only is Ashley an amazing Mumma to two gorgeous boys, she is a talented photographer. I can spend hours just looking at her stunning images. Make sure you pop over to Ashley's blog and Facebook page and give her lots of love.

Hey guys. I'm Ashley and I write over on The Stork & The Beanstalk. Special thanks to Julie for having me today and much love to all the women out there. 

When my husband and I first started dating, his cousin was just a young boy. So young that he used to color me pictures, presenting them with big red cheeks and a shy smile. He's starting college this year and despite my desire to think of him with those big rosy cheeks and crayon colored picture in hand, he's beginning the path to adulthood. And with adulthood comes that daunting question of what to do with your life.

Deciding what to do with my life always felt like more of a burden and less of a freedom. I didn't come from a family that pushed their expectations on me and, at times, I wish I would have (although now I can clearly see that leaving it up to me was absolutely the best direction they could have given me. Pushing their expectations on me would have been grossly detrimental). 

I spent much of my college days floating about.

I remember the conversation I had with my dad when I told him I wanted to major in Humanities. You could hear the unsung worry in his voice as he cautiously asked, "what are you going to do with that degree?". I commend my parents now for always using open ended questions when dealing with my still-maturing brain. Asking what I was going to do with a degree in Humanities placed the responsibility back on myself and was much more helpful than hearing, "there's not much you can do with a degree in Humanities". 

I earned my bachelors degree in Humanities from San Francisco State University. And as soon as I graduated, the worry as to what I'd do with it was mine, and mine alone. And with that diploma in hand, that worry became real. 

I spent the next year really and truly just being young; making mistakes, pretending to be an adult, trying to support myself. I signed up for some photography classes at San Francisco City College (I had taken a photojournalism class at SF State my senior year that made me want to change my major entirely). I spent those days in the dark room, developing film, and trying not to get parking tickets.

I worked as a gymnastics coach.

Every now and again, I'd come back to that daunting question of what to do with my life. And when it hurt my brain too much, I'd find something new to keep me busy.

I spent some time in France and worked as an au-pair for an amazing family; A family I still keep in touch with and even visited a few years back in London.

I travelled. A lot. Thailand, India, Malta, Morocco, Egypt, Singapore, Guatemala. A road trip to Louisiana and back.

And somewhere in it all, I decided more than anything I wanted to be a mom. And thus, I became a nurse (because hello three shifts a week). And now, I'm 32 and I have the best of all the little pieces... A humbled beginning, a loving husband and two beautiful boys, a career in nursing, a photography business, and memories that remind me constantly that life is not always best planned out or dictated by others. I celebrate often that my life is my own. 

The story is long, much longer than I'm sure you care to read about here, but the message is short: The journey is the destination. All these little pieces of the puzzle have made me who I am. Each step off the path was not a deviation, but instead a part of what is now the whole. 

I have no advice for others. Rather, I trust that we all find our own way and on our own terms. Autonomy is a beautiful thing.

Please Note: Images and words are Ashley's unless otherwise indicated


  1. Another gorgeous post Julie! I love seeing all these different paths and perspectives.

  2. Same, it is so great for me to be able to peak into these amazing women's lives and share.


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