Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday Favorites: Redefining Rich

Today’s Friday Favorites is dedicated to the Redefining Rich blog created by Ashley Klane last January as a New Year’s resolution to “redefine” her interpretation of what it meant to live a “rich” life. Below is a passage from her very first post in which she explained her prerogative for creating the blog:

 The idea for this year’s resolution came to me one night when I finally got sick of hearing myself complain about how broke I am. While it’s true that I’m pretty broke (along with almost everybody else my age), I realized that I was whining about it while eating wild salmon, inside my home, surrounded by some of the people I love most. I wanted to slap myself. I have always known that I am fortunate in infinite ways, but my first stab at being an adult and supporting myself got my views a little twisted. I needed to redefine “rich”. Sure, I may live off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches most nights, and I may or may not have let my brunette roots grow down to my ears, but I can eat, I have a job I love, and my 5 month old nephew gives me the biggest smile every single day when I get home from work. So I’m pretty sure I’m f*cking loaded.

And so came the idea for 2013. I want to stop complaining and start helping. As long as I have enough money to survive, I have enough money to help other people. So, this year I want to choose one charity per month to share with my family and friends, raise awareness for, and donate to. While I’ll personally only be able to donate a small amount, I like to believe that even small acts of kindness can create positive outcomes – people helping people, pay it forward, all that good stuff. I would like to admit that I don’t always believe money to be the best way to help. Whenever possible, I support volunteering, as actions speak louder than $$$. However, keeping in mind my goals to include my friends and family in this resolution and to choose a new charity every month, I felt a monetary donation would be an easy way to keep this resolution going. (I’ll also be sharing stories of volunteering and random acts of kindness to supplement throughout the year.)
I have a new nephew as I mentioned earlier, and any little thing I can do to make his world just a little bit better, I’ll find a way to do. My hope is that everyone following this has someone to inspire them, someone to be better for.
Ashley with her nephew Henry, Summer 2013
The Redefining Rich blog has delivered all that it has promised  and a heck of a whole lot more. Over this past year, Ashley has covered a diverse number of charities  including the DJ Henry Dream Fund, the Autism Research Foundation,  and School on Wheels of Massachusetts. Each month, Ashley shares quotes, pictures, heartfelt notes, and information on that particular month’s charity. Her posts are intimate and heartfelt, while leaving you feeling like you have just a little more love left to give that you may have not even  known you had, which is exactly how I feel when spending time with Ashley.

Ashley is one of my very best friends since moving to Easton at the tender age of 15. (Yup, I started high school in a new town!)   Even while growing up, Ashley never ceased to amaze me with her huge heart and endless dedication towards helping others. As much as it might have been tempting to partake in “gossiping with your bestie", I never engaged in such antics with Ashley since she never made you feel like there was any need to. 

While Ashley is always a very positive person, it is not in a "Richard Simmons, over-the-top" sorta way. Rather, Ashley is just so naturally blissful that the conversation never heads towards a negative place. My friend Jimmy always says “You are affected by the 5 people you surround yourself with the most” and I am so lucky that Ashley has been one of those 5.

Last year, during my full-time MBA program, Ashley moved back home and we literally became attached at the hip. With similar "school schedules" (Ash is a teacher), we shared after-school snacks, watched a ton of weekly TV shows such as the Voice, in which we rose from the couch to give standing ovations for our favorite singers, took weekly “field trips” to Hilliard's (our favorite, local ice cream parlor), and went on leisurely drives in Ashley's jeep, while listening to our favorite compilation of “chill” music (which included another one of my favorite Ashleys, Ashley Sofia).

During this stressful time, Ashley was my endless support system; providing rides to the doctors, advice on online shopping purchases, and never hesitated to get excited  over my weird "healthy hippie" food that no one else would dear try or ever refused to try my made-up beauty concoctions and recipes, despite how "strange" they may have been. So needless to say when Ashley told me one day over ice cream at Hilliard's, that she was planning to move to Los Angeles to live with Caitie (another high school best friend), I was in major denial.

 Fast-forward a few months later to her going away dinner and having to say goodbye. I felt like a complete and utter "hot mess." This was my best bud, who lived an easy 5 minutes away, and suddenly my normal routine was screeching to a sudden halt. But I took a deep breath and gave her a big hug goodbye, and told her; “go show LA how you kill it,” and begrudgingly walked away while miraculously remaining composed. However, the second I got to the car, I cried like the big, mushy baby I was.
  Ashley and I at her going away party, Jimmy Plunkett cruise, August 2013

It has now been 3 months since the big move and seriously not a thing has changed with my friendship with Ashley. I still get to catch up with her frequently, have received a “tour” of the new place via iPhone pictures, and continue to receive the same amount of endless support from her as always, its just now over the phone. In fact, Ashley is in part to thank for launching the Creatively Lu blog. 

 As I write my blog posts, I often think “This is something Ashley would love.” Remember that coconut DIY masque or the walnut streusel bread recipe or the gratitude journal entry?... Yup, all those posts I knew Ashley would, in her words; “ be all over.”

Ashley is an incredible role model, aunt (remember that “little bald guy” from my first Wordless Wednesday picture?), blogger, and teacher.  I am so thankful and lucky to call her my lifelong friend.

So please go check out the Redefining Rich blog, you will be glad you did! Below is your daily dose of inspiration, inspired by Ashley. Have a great weekend everyone!
Ashley, alongside her sister, Amanda, and nephew, Henry, at Borderland State Park, Summer 2013.
*Follow Redefining Rich on Tumblr and Twitter

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