REFLECTIONS ON 2015

2015 in review 2

Lowlights

As an angsty teenager about ten years ago, I once read something that really resonated with me. I can’t remember the source, the author, or the precise words, but I vividly recall the sentiment; life is unsettling. I’m not talking about the feeling you get when you’re walking the dark streets of a rough suburb, alone, at three in the morning.

I remember thinking that this was a clever, and powerful, way of describing (by what’s left unsaid) all of the endogenous feelings that are unsettling; fear and lonliness, loss and grief. The feeling of not reaching your potential. The feeling of not belonging or never really being ‘good enough’. The feeling you get when you question your own identity or that of people dear to you.

Last year I learned that those unsettling, angsty teenage feelings weren’t necessarily confined to my teenage years (as you might already know, if you follow me on Instagram and have seen my #honestyhour). Right when you’re feeling like you might just have being an adult all figured out, life can throw you a curveball (read: breakup) that can have you losing any sense of normalcy, and self.

Why am I telling you this?

When I was in the early stages of planning this blog, I read a lot of blogging guides that instructed me to find my ‘voice’. If you’ve been following along on this blog for a while, you know I’m an optimist through and through, and that I strongly believe that small actions towards more ethical shopping habits can change the world. So, through the blog creation process, I decided that I wanted the ‘voice’ of my posts to be upbeat and positive and helpful. And to be completely honest with you, dear reader, communicating in that voice has not come naturally or authentically for much of this year. Which is why there have been long, silent stretches in this space this year.

Though I’m no longer mourning the end of an important relationship – and haven’t been for some time now – I’ve been shaken up. I’ve tried to be gentle on myself while I restarted and tried to execute the everyday things that are important to me and, before 2015, came easily to me: being a diligent teammember at work, exercising, eating well. I haven’t always succeeded. My approach to life last year was chaotic and inconsistent, at best. It’s been what is needed.

However, my belief that we all have a part to play in the ethical fashion movement has not wavered and I know that my role, however small, is important and much ‘bigger’ than the ups and downs of my personal life. Furthermore, I want to stay an active member of the ethical fashion community because creating an ethical lifestyle – and blogging about it – brings me a lot of joy and a sense of purpose. I’m passionate about this lifestyle and I want to share this passion with you in a meaningful, useful way.

I’ve never lost the ‘why’ of my blogging, but last year I’ve sometimes lost the ‘how’.

So ‘how’ do I turn this around and get back into a regular posting schedule? After this long, unplanned absence, how do I convert my ideas into words on the page again?

Maybe it starts with being really honest and vulernable (a la my favourite TED talk) with you. Hence this post, which is part melancholy reflection and part a roadmap back to blogging. There isn’t much planned or intentional about this post. I really just felt like writing and very honestly showing you my heart. Perhaps in the future, there will be more times where I write from the heart, rather than publishing ethical product round-ups or shopping lists (though I still intend to share those type of posts!)

Highlights

I’ve now shared with you the scary and vulnerable parts of my year. I want to end by sharing a small snapshot of the great things that I experienced in 2015:

January

I celebrated one year of living in Canberra with my Canberra bestie, Karina, in my favourite Canberra spot, the National Arboretum.

February

I witnessed the awesome love of caring, loyal, wonderful friends and family who stepped in to make sure I was okay after the end of a five-plus year relationship.

March

I came back to Perth to celebrate the marriage of two old friends. I’ve known these two since they first met – working at a chicken shop – when I worked at a bakery two doors down at age 15.

April

Another trip home – this time to celebrate the engagement of one of my best friends in the world, Tara, to a wonderful guy she first dated in primary school. I love Love!

I also took my first work-related trip in my current role, to the beautiful Tasmania.

May

I moved into a new apartment with the best ever roomie, Billi, and have had fun decorating it ever since. Surrounded by gardens, and a block away from the store, cafes and my gym – I’ve never been happier.

June

I turned 26 and came back to Perth for the third time in a year. I was lucky enough to have two birthday celebrations – one amazing dumplings dinner with my Perth friends, and mid-winter drinks with my Canberra friends.

July & August

Tara came to visit me and we roadtripped to Sydney. We had so much fun hanging out one-on-one and exploring the east coast together, including the fabulous Fitzroy Falls.

These were also a couple of months of learning and growth, as I did serious processing and resetting.

September

If the months of July and August were about reflecting on the past, September was all about looking to the future! I embarked on an amazing soul-feeding holiday to the United States. I (sort of accidentally) filled my trip with doing things that bring me the most joy and purpose in life and spending time with other social justice-minded friends – a very me trip.

First, I hung out with my longtime friend and extraordinary anti-poverty advocate, Mick, in NYC and volunteered behind the scenes at the Global Citizen Festival on the day following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. Both the festival and NYC are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before – an amazing experience I am so grateful to have gotten to be involved in. I have so much gratitude for my friend Mick for hosting me and making my time in NYC so enjoyable!

Next, I flew to Minnesota, home of  my friend Hannah who blogs at Lifestyle: Justice. Hannah and I were previously purely Internet friends who shared a love of conscious consumerism! We ‘met’ online when Hannah contacted me about 18 months ago to interview me as part of her ‘Fairtrade Coffee with Bloggers’ series. We’ve been in contact ever since and I just knew we would hit it off if we ever got the chance to meet in person. Thankfully, we did get to meet in person and we could not have got along better. We joked that during the five days we spent together (first in Hannah’s hometown of St Paul, Minnesota and then in Chicago) our conversations were like speaking to ourselves – we are so similar! In Chicago, I was thrilled to physically drop in on three ethical stores I have only ever visited online: Mata Traders, Greenheart Shop and Ten Thousand Villages. I came away from this trip so reinvigorated, inspired and motivated to amplfy my voice in the ethical consumerism space. Definitely a 2015 highlight (and I have some content on this trip in the works).

October

After coming back from my fabulous American adventure, I went down to Tasmania to work for the second time in 2015 – this time spending two enjoyable, busy weeks in the beautiful capital, Hobart. This work experience was a steep learning curve; an incredible opportunity I came away from feeling so much more competent and confident.

November

I was lucky enough to have more visitors flying east from Perth; special thanks to one of my best friends, Danica, who came over for the second time in two years. We had an incredible time with in Canberra and then Sydney to see Taylor Swift.

December

I finished up work for the year on a high and headed home to Perth for the fourth time (four times more than in 2014!), for Christmas with my friends and family. I spent the last week of December visiting with friends and at the beach – sometimes at the same time. I could not think of a more perfect way to conclude my 2015.

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1: The wonderful Hannah in St. Paul / 2: Chicago

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New York City’s skyline from Brooklyn

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Chicago from the Skydeck

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Capturing the view from the Chicago Skydeck

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Hannah and my matching Etikos

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Creating ethical cocktails at Mata Traders‘ HQ using Fair Spirits

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A new purchase from Greenheart Shop, a fabulous ethical weekender by Krochet Kids

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1:
Eating deep dish pizza at the Chicago airport / 2: The view above, in New York City

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Central Park, New York City, from the Top of the Rock

I’m excited and hopeful about the future. Here’s some things that are getting me all enthuiastic about a wonderful (and slightly less chaotic, I hope) 2016:

Lastly, thank you so much for support during 2015. How was your 2015? Have you made any resolutions for 2016?

Yours Fairly,

Ashlee

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2 Comments

  1. January 4, 2016 / 5:10 PM

    Wow Ashlee – 2015 was quite the year for you! I really enjoyed reading this post, and I can’t help but feel like 2016 is going to be a big year for you! :) Your resolve to spread the benefits of choosing ethical fashion is truly inspiring.

    Happy new year!

    • Ashlee
      January 4, 2016 / 7:37 PM

      Thanks, Katherine! Connecting with you last year was a real highlight and I look forward to more of it in 2016!! Thanks for your support and well wishes for 2016… I hope it’s a big year, too!

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