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Suite 238-1917 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6J 1M7
Canada

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Wellbeing & SOLOpreneurship; my personal story ❤︎

Ashley Johnson

Hi there you beautiful human :)


I chose to write this post about the last six months, as enquiring minds are wondering what’s been going on, plus it is cathartic for me to articulate the happenings into words.

 

D e e p breath.

Here it goes…

 

The Anthropology Of Giving is just me.

I work with a brilliant array of makers who supply me with product, but I’m flying solo other than that, therefore, I consider myself to be a SOLOpreneur.

In some ways it’s great, I only have myself to be accounted to, in other ways it’s so darn challenging, as, if I can’t do it, nothing gets done.

 

At the beginning of June there was a blip in my health, which proceeded to snowball out of control into WAY more than a blip.

It’s now November, and I have yet to recover.

I had to press pause on virtually everything in my life, aside from simply trying to remain in existence.

I will not mince my words here, it completely SUCKED!

 

For a little bit of context…

I’ve been “blessed” with a hypersensitive make-up, and have been faced with a myriad of health challenges since I was really little.  Some (by that I mean several medical professionals from various fields) believe it is due to the stress my Mom was under when she was pregnant with me. 
My older brother was diagnosed with leukaemia just before I was born (he passed away when I was 3 1/2).

 

with Mom

Other health professionals consider the fact I had two mmr’s (measles, mumps, rubella vaccination) because Mom lost the documentation from my first vaccination in the chaos that was her life.

Fam Jam

Regardless of the why, I have always had acute allergies.  I have always gotten bizarre skin infections… My immune system is compromised, and I try really hard to build it up, but it falls apart regularly.

I have to be so careful about what I commit to, how much stress I’m under, how I’m eating/sleeping/etc/etc.

But Life happens, and sometimes I simply cannot control everything enough to keep myself afloat.

I also simply make bad choices once in a while that cause me grief.

 

In my late teens a large emotional component to my health revealed itself.

I don’t fit into any of the mental health boxes, I’m not bipolar, I’m not clinically depressed.

I have been assessed, and reassessed over the years to no avail.

I have been prescribed almost every mental health medication out there, and I don’t respond well to anything.

This insane sensitivity to all medication has been a huge problem for me through this rollercoaster health journey.

It’s so hard to be treated for something when your body can’t tolerate that said treatment.

 

The next phase of my life consisted of an extremely bumpy ride of trying to get through university, and while;

  1. Exploring alternative medicine options.
  2. A hospitalization which included electro-convulsive therapy.
  3. Being diagnosed and treated for chronic Lyme disease.
  4. Developing major insomnia and being treated like a guinea pig at the UBC Sleep Disorders clinic seeing no results.
  5. Being put on and taken off various medications which never seemed to work for me, but always wreaked havoc on my system when I tapered off.

Part of what the last six months have included is tapering off a highly addictive prescription sleeping medication which caused immense withdrawal symptoms, and has been one of the most horrific experiences of my life.

 

♡♡♡  I have been with my boyfriend for almost 11 years now, and how he has managed to support me through all of this, I have no idea (he's pretty radtastic).   ❤︎❤︎❤︎

 

My extensive journey to find health is extremely hard on my family, as they simply want me to get well.

It’s especially hard on my Mom, as I know she feels like it is her fault somehow, even though it isn’t.

 

Many friendships have paid the price, as I can only truly be there for the people in my life when I am well, so I tend to come in and out of peoples lives as my health ebbs and flows.

 

The fact that I don’t have, and likely never will have a clear diagnosis makes it really hard to explain to people.

Plus there is a large component of shame associated with this for me, as part of me still thinks I should be able to will myself out of this, and that when I have a downswing, I have failed.

At times I feel extremely embarrassed about the whole thing, and believe people must wonder why I don't have my shit together, and think I’m lazy/unmotivated/unintelligent (insert loads of other choice negative adjectives).

 

 

I went back and forth for ages trying to decide whether or not it was a good idea for me to write this post.

 

I want to thank Melissa of Print Therapy for showing me that sharing your story, even if it’s extremely personal, is cathartic.  Reading her lovely instagram and blog posts helped give me the courage to write this.

 

Also thanking Linnie von Sky who is a constant source of light, and whose children’s book publication allows me to explain parts of my health story to the amazing kidlets in my life.

Grace Bonnie of Design*Sponge for always fearlessly sharing even the most difficult parts of her story with her online community.

 

 

What has helped me though this bad spell:

  1. Admitting I need help and accepting it.
  2. Craniosacral therapy with the magic Christine Steward.
  3. My sister’s magic cannabis cream & bath bombs.
  4. Danielle LaPorte’s truthbombs.
  5. Bamboletta dolls.
  6. woodlot soap.
  7. Noble & Co beeswax candles.
  8. Penny Frances Apothecary Geranium face serum.
  9. The fact that Rifle Paper is doing an Alice in Wonderland fabric collection.
  10. Spending time with my nieces and nephews who love me no matter what.
  11. Happy Mail.
  12. The ocean & loads of other things Mother Earth has to offer.
Halloween with Rojo & Paxy Waxy
Chasey & Jakey

 

Some things that have really resonated with me around this subject lately are:

  1. The Jealous Curator’s podcast.
  2. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey who the ever so thoughtful Rhea (@devoteddiarist @mailmorelove) mailed to me, even though we only know one another through instagram and penpal-ing.
  3. Almost everything that comes out of Anita’s mouth (@thesocialyoga @momentmeditation).  You can hear her on two recent podcasts here and here.
  4. Dug Dealer by Macklemore featuring Ariana Deboo see video here.  
  5. The Marie TV episode with Grace Bonney.
  6. Music soothes my soul, listen to my All the FEELS playlist here.

 

I’m so grateful that I find myself in a place where I feel comfortable sharing this.

I am blessed to have a community who genuinely cares how I am, who do not judge me, and will welcome me back in person when I am well enough to connect.

 

The moral of this story:

Life happens… So much of it is out of our control, therefore it is imperative to recognize and embrace the small moments of joy that you are blessed with throughout the day.  Be grateful for them, and really feel all the goodness.

We never really know what we will be faced with next, but believe in your ability to face whatever challenges come your way.

We are much stronger that we believe we are.

 

 

Choose love.

 

 

Ash xo

 

Write Love

Ashley Johnson

I believe my love for writing came from my inspiring English Teacher in Grade 3, Mrs. Stout. She taught me some skills that I use on a daily basis, such as the importance of proofreading (if there ends up being a typo in this post, I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mrs Stout).

It's challenging for me to find adequate words to describe how much I enjoy putting pen to paper, and sending a note off to another human.

Fab book recommended by Jessica Lewis of The Paper Trail Diary, card by Grey Moggie Press, bear by Commonfolk, *please note~ I discovered Grey Moggie Press & Ink Meets Paper (below) from the radtastic Andrea Raymond-Wong (@dreyray) of 8ballons.com ♡

Fab book recommended by Jessica Lewis of The Paper Trail Diary, card by Grey Moggie Press, bear by Commonfolk, *please note~ I discovered Grey Moggie Press & Ink Meets Paper (below) from the radtastic Andrea Raymond-Wong (@dreyray) of 8ballons.com

There is a Snail Mail Revolution taking place right now, which involves people returning to letter writing, as opposed to sending a text or an email, or communicating via other forms of social media.
I was doing this well before the internet even existed, and have never stopped.

I genuinely love sending mail, and do so as much as I possibly can.

It warms my heart to hear friends I've known for years explain that they have a box full of correspondence from me. That said, I don't expect people to keep what I send them for all eternity, all I'm attempting to do is give them a moment of pause, a mindful moment, where they can refuel their souls and spirits with some joy, knowing that someone out there is thinking of them, and loving them, and rooting for them. 

Pouch by eggpress, Book for Paper Lovers from Flow Magazine

Pouch by eggpress, Book for Paper Lovers from Flow Magazine

April is National Letter Writing Month which is something I believe is worth celebrating. WOOT WOOT!

I'm a huge fan of the Write On Campaign started by Egg Press and Hello! Lucky Cards two years ago. The premise is to encourage people to write 30 Letters in 30 Days in the month of April.
To help people along, they (with other sponsors this year such as Mohawk Paper, Chronicle Books, and Sakura of America) mailed out TEN THOUSAND free letter writing kits to Snail Mailers around the world.
I find this mind blowing, and genuinely spectacular that there are people out there doing awesome things like this.

Postcard by Ink Meets Paper, Snail Mail Is Sexy card by Grey Moggie Press, Snail Mail Forever Sticker by Q&A Letterbox, Happy Mail sticker by Queenie's Cards

Postcard by Ink Meets Paper, Snail Mail Is Sexy card by Grey Moggie Press, Snail Mail Forever Sticker by Q&A Letterbox, Happy Mail sticker by Queenie's Cards

We, at The A of G are doing a few of our own things this month to propel the Snail Mail Revolution.

Firstly, we are releasing our Write Love Letterbox which has been months in the making. We have sourced our favourite Canadian stationery lines to compile a unique collection of greeting cards, vintage postage stamps, washi tape, pens, date stamps & notebooks, and it's all contained in a beautiful salvaged wood box by Hobo Woodworks. It will be going live next week, so keep your eyes peeled for it in our online shop.
Our charity of choice for this collection is The Writers' Exchange which is a RAD organization that gets inner-city kids excited about reading and writing by offering free programs.
Check out this video, it's heartwarming.

Secondly, we are hosting our first community event called Write Love. Community and connection are so important to us, especially face to face interaction.
We are absolutely thrilled to be able to offer this event for our Vancouver community.
It is a FREE Letter Writing event where you can simply come, write a letter, and spread some love.
All your letter writing needs will be supplied; paper, postcards, vintage typewriters, rubber stamps, washi, tea & treats, as well as a postage stamp so you can mail off your letter.
We would LOVE to see you there, please RSVP.
It's at one of our most favourite spots, Studio 126, on Sunday April 17th from 2-5pm.

We are also holding a Write Love Pop Up Letter Writing Social at Revolver Coffee on Tuesday April 26th from 3-6pm.
Be sure to put this on your calendar, and stop in, to write a postcard or letter to one of the super cool humans in your life (or a pet, or a plant, or an alien of your choosing).

Thirdly, we are holding our first instagram auction to raise funds for The Writer's Exchange.
Our goal is to raise a minimum of $2000 which will enable a class of inner-city kids, and their teacher, to create a publishing project with the support of The Writers' Exchange.
The auction will be held Sunday April 24th from 12-6pm (PST) on our instagram feed.
We have a myriad of FANTABULOUS donations so far, and couldn't be more grateful for the support we are receiving for this project.
 

Cards by Print Therapy: A feel good paper apothecary

Cards by Print Therapy: A feel good paper apothecary

The beautiful cards pictured above have been donated by Melissa & Nick of Print Therapy for the gift bags we will be giving away to the first ten humans who arrive, and write a letter at our Letter Writing event on the 17th.

These gift bags will also contain Scatter Kindness Cards by Pay It Forward Gear. They enable you to spread good vibes by sending written messages out into the world for strangers to find (a concept we wholeheartedly believe in).

We really hope you can come.
It's going to be magic.

Signing off for now...
Go Write some Love (#WriteLoveYVR).

Oodles of love, laughter, light, and GREAT coffee...

Ash xo