Guest post by Ashley Mitchell

When people hear my story-my entire story, they just shake their head.  They have only seen people like me in the movies, or on Jerry Springer!  The truth is in my life I have done things and seen things that I am not proud of but I am NOT ashamed.  There is a difference.  I am not prideful and I do not condone or justify my actions just because I turned out okay.  I am humble and try to share some insight to the choices that were made.  I would never encourage casual sex partners, substance abuse, getting knocked up, and spending time in jail and so on.  (can you hear the audience chanting JERRY! JERRY!? )

In spite of all of that, I have to say that the greatest lesson that I have learned in my life is to own my story, own who I am, own my actions and to find the growth in each and every one of those moments that took place in my life.

The biggest mistake that we make in our own progress is to hold on to the shame that we feel about the “inappropriate” events and paths traveled.  That shame keeps us from looking to where we are from where we were.  We have to love ourselves, accept ourselves and show ourselves some grace.  We are not perfect!  Oh my hell, do we not know by now that WE MAKE MISTAKES…we choose paths, we make choices that change us from day to day and it is okay!  These are basic principles my friends!  Don’t ask me why we can’t ever quite get it figured out.

I spent years looking at my past trying to figure out all the “wrong” choices I had made.  I tried to put a pretty Tiffany lamp shade on my dirty red light!  I tried to make my past something that it wasn’t, I wanted it to be different, I wanted to see it in a different light.  I wanted who I am now to reflect who I was, but the two didn’t add up.  AND THAT IS THE BEAUTY OF MY LIFE!  I am the person I am now BECAUSE of who I was and OWNING that and making peace with that has made me happier, more successful and has allowed me to inspire others.

It has been absolutely mind blowing how many people have come to me and thanked me for sharing my story.  I never in a million years thought that sharing my experiences would touch anyone!  I couldn’t believe how many people had gone through so many of the same things I did…I had finally found the love, support and peace that I had always been looking and I was TRUE to who I am!  All the years I spent trying to hide the choices that I had made or the times I was ashamed of my story were, now as I have discovered, the darkest days of my life.

There is a lyric from a Sound Garden song titled Fell on Black Days and it reads: “…so don’t you lock up something that you wanted to see fly.  Hands are for shaking, no not for tying.”  Think about that for a moment.  We lock up things about us that we are ashamed of, we try and hide, we bind ourselves and put ourselves in prison!  We need to let who we are fly free.

If you can’t love yourself, respect yourself, honor yourself, be gentle and forgiving with yourself then how do you ever expect anyone in your life to treat you the way you deserve to be treated?  Think about it!  You can’t ask for things that you aren’t willing to do yourself!

As Confucius tells us “and remember, no matter where you go, there you are”.  You can’t hide from yourself.  You have a divine life to live and that INCLUDES every choice and every action.  Do me a favor-sit and think about all the amazing, wonderful, incredible, magical, and miraculous things that are in your life.  I am willing to bet that you would NOT have those things…all those amazing, wonderful, incredible, magical and miraculous things in your life if you did NOT make the choices that you did, if you had not traveled down those winding paths you would not be living your current bliss!  NOW that is powerful!  I can’t imagine my life without my amazing grace, my husband, my kids, my family, my faith and hope, my business and the list goes on and on!  I would live all those black days over again so my life would turn out just as it has!

I am grateful for those things from my past, they are incredible blessings, they have become a great part of my soul, and a great teaching tool.  I have come to love them and understand them and appreciate them for what they were at the time that they were.  I love my story, I own my story, it is who I am and I am a beautiful soul.

Ashley Mitchell spends her days loving on her children, leaning on her husband and reaching out to women who, who like herself, found themselves at a crossroad and chose adoption. She is the founder of a non-profit birth mom community called Blessings in a Basket. She is a die-hard college football fan, covets anything from Tiffany and thinks that snow is the most magical and sparkly thing in the world!