Lessons from the Slopes


Ashley Danyew | Ski Day I checked off one of my March goals last week - we went skiing! And can I just say, it felt so good to spend the day outside after a long, very cold winter. Mind you, it was still in the 40s, but with the sun shining, we got a glimpse of the warmer days ahead. I felt more refreshed just breathing in that cool mountain air.

Ashley Danyew | Ski Day

Every time I ski, I discover a few more "life lessons". I hope these are as enlightening to you as they were for me:

1. The conditions are always changing. In this spring weather, you may find groomed snow, slick icy patches, and soft snow that grab your skis - all on the same trail. The conditions are always changing, so be prepared, responsive, and flexible.

2. You can't follow in someone else's tracks; you have to make your own. The trails show traces of those who have traveled this way before but it's impossible to make it down the mountain using the same set of tracks. Make your own decisions, use your own creativity, and make your own way.

Ashley Danyew | Ski Day

3. It's okay to fall. It's how you get back up that matters.

4. Face your fears; take the leap. You may not be able to see the end of the path, but that shouldn't keep you from exploring it. Face your fears; take a risk; try.

Ashley Danyew | Ski Day

5. Sometimes it's good to be still. SD and I had some great conversations on this chair lift - the real, honest kind of conversations that I'd been missing in the midst of a few chaotic months. My heart needed this time to be free, to be brought to a place of humility and honesty, and to find peace.

Ashley Danyew | Ski Day

5. It's better with people. It's true in skiing and it's true in life. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and challenge you to be better.

6. Enjoy the ride. Sure, there's risk involved and it might be a lot of work sometimes; but enjoy the ride. The joy is in the journey.

Read more: Snow Day

Happy anniversary, darling


Dear SD, Two years ago today we celebrated the start of our marriage together on the most beautiful, sunny fall day in the rolling hills of southern Vermont.  We reminisce often about that day and the sweet memories we hold and I'm so grateful we had the opportunity to build another year's worth of memories together this year.

IMG_1625 Remember that time we visited Niagara Falls in the winter?

We went skiing in Utah, saw Pink Martini at the Jazz Festival, and watched a few of the chase scenes for The Amazing Spider Man 2 being filmed downtown.  We shared a pulled pork sandwich from Bogart's in North Carolina (the best!) and sampled the wares of several local food trucks - Marty's Meats (with that amazing fried chicken sandwich), Le Petite Poutine, Macarollin', and Cheesed and Confused (with the pulled pork + macaroni and cheese grilled cheese sandwich).  We bought an air conditioner and wondered how we ever got along without one.  We had a white Christmas, saw the pink magnolias in full bloom in the spring, ate lobster in the summer, and went apple-picking in the fall (we even made an apple pie - and crust - from scratch!).

I love the things you do to make me laugh.  I love your sweet, selfless nature and all the ways you serve me.  I love when you tug on my hand during our after-dinner walks to encourage me to walk a little slower and enjoy the moment.  Thank you for showing me kindness every single day.  I admire your integrity and your giving spirit.  I love your heart, SD.  I am so grateful for you!

Happy 2nd anniversary!

Happy anniversary, darling

Happy anniversary, darling.

What an exciting year we've had!  We moved to a new state, visited eight states together + two more on our own, and hit 100,000 miles in the car.  We started (and stopped and started) jogging and started eating healthier.  I became a coffee drinker, you became a Bachelor Pad fan (I take full responsibility).  You had four commissions(!), I started a new degree program, and between us, we had two failed publishing attempts (there's always next year!).  We tried too many new recipes to count, saw Vermont in the fall, made our first trip to the ER, played concerts for audiences ages 2-80+, found our new everyday wine, and became Apple converts.

Our first year as husband and wife was not without its challenges but we had many laughs along the way.  I'm so grateful for your kind heart, your patient spirit, and your unwavering support.  My heart is full of so many sweet memories!  Remember splashing in the puddles on Main Street on our way to the Post Office?  And rearranging the tulips on Easter Sunday morning?  How about that time I opened a fortune cookie that had nothing inside and you opened yours to find two?  I learned just how handsome you look in a bow tie and you learned that my southern charm has a fiery side (or maybe you already had that one figured out).

I'm so grateful for the life we share together.  I love you!

P.S.  See more of our wedding pictures here and here.

Reality Check

"i love you much (most beautiful darling) more than anyone on the earth and i like you better than everything in the sky." - e.e. cummings It was a typical Tuesday evening.  We ate a late supper, worked for a little while, exercised, and watched a TV episode to unwind.  At this point, 11:00 p.m., SD got up to get ready for bed.  I opened up WordPress to finish a post I had in progress.

“Time for bed,” he said rather sternly.  “Why are you acting like a Nazi?” I responded, defensively.  “I’m just trying to keep you from working 24/7,” he said.  The words stung a little and stopped me dead in my tracks.

I work hard.  We both do.  But there’s a difference between living to work and working to live.  I love what I do but that doesn’t mean it’s my top priority 100% of the time.  Life is made up of priorities that we set and boundaries we establish to protect the things that are most important to us.  No else can set those boundaries for us.  Tuesday’s late-night exchange made me question what I really value and how I show that with my time and my actions.

When I bring my computer down to the kitchen to continue working on emails while SD cooks dinner, I may be keeping him company and yes, I offer to help but I’m also showing that I can’t set my work aside.  I don’t have time to just be there, fully present.  When SD drives and I take out my iPhone to skim Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., I may be able to carry on a conversation with him but I’m showing that I can’t focus on just him.

And, since I’m on a roll, I have another confession to make.  Part of me feels like I thrive on multitasking.  It’s almost like I’m competing with myself: setting the bar higher and higher, challenging myself to balance more things at once and not crack under the pressure.  Is that bad?  I whole-heartedly believe in challenging oneself, setting goals, and not settling for adequate when you can do and be so much more.  However, there is a time and a place for Wonder Woman and it’s not when we’re trying to unwind at the end of the day.  You see, I have this bad habit during commercial breaks.  I open up a new browser window and work on that blog post I started earlier or I begin editing my to-do list for tomorrow.  Terrible, I know!

Here’s the lesson I need to teach myself: Learn to just be.  Sometimes, we all need time to just sit a spell and be fully present, don’t you think?

Fast forward to Wednesday night at 5:00 p.m.  I stepped away from my computer, left my phone on the coffee table upstairs, and made a vegetable lasagna (from scratch!) with SD.  It felt like such a luxury, I thought it was the weekend!  At 7:30 p.m., I sat back down to work for a few hours but I was refocused and driven and I powered right through my to-do list.  No time for distractions – just clear, focused work.  What an incredible feeling!

Here’s to reality checks, to refocusing, to being fully present, and to treating every day like the weekend.