Is It Worth It?

This is a follow-up to my previous post.Click below to read: Why Dogs?: http://luckydogrescueblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-dogs.html

I received a lot of amazing feedback regarding my recent post: Why Dogs? One of those responses was a simple text message from a friend... one that really got me thinking.
The text read:

At one time, everyone knew what their life purpose was meant to be... but we were taught to forget it, in the name of money and security. You held onto yours. Great post.

Those words reminded me of something I wrote and shared on my blog last year:

"When you're a kid, anything is possible. You think big, you dream bigger, and you know--without a doubt-- that you can do anything. Over time, the world beats us down. The big thoughts are exchanged for conformity. The bigger dreams are traded for stability. The 'can-dos' are replaced with 'can't-dos.' We call that 'growing up.' But really... we didn't grow up at all. We gave up." ~ me

That text message, coupled with my own words, really made me think about the importance of dreams and purpose... and why so many people let go of these things. I couldn't help but question the lessons we're taught... about wealth, security, and success...and the lives we go on to lead as a result.

Mostly, I thought about the regrets, felt by so many, because of those teachings. And I just kept asking: Why??? 

Why the hell do we allow this to happen??
Why does our society value money and status over dreams and purpose?
And why do we continue to defend this behavior... and re-teach these lessons... when they lead to so much regret for so many people?

I've always been a pretty big fan of the word: "Why?" But when it comes to questions like these... I'm rarely satisfied with the responses I receive.

Here are some examples:
"Because that's what you're supposed to do..."
"Because that's how it has to be..."
"Because that's how we've always done it..."
"Because they said I should..."
"Because that's how life works..."

Wait... that's why?? 

Maybe it's the complete lack of logic in these responses, or the total non-explanation of those answers, or the seeming complacency with it all. Maybe that's what bothers me so much...

Maybe it's the surrender-without-a-fight mentality... the it-is-what-it-is indifference... or the because-I-said-so attitude.

Maybe it's the lack of conviction... the absence of vision... or the denial of alternatives.

Or maybe it's the tiny whisper of defeat I often hear, behind the voice that provides those answers. A subtle mix of anger and sadness that says: "I don't know why I gave up... but I did it anyway..."

It's heartbreaking to see so many people going through life with such deep regrets about their decisions to give-up on their dreams... often feeling as if they missed their entire reason for being here. Especially because... it just doesn't have to be that way.

Now... before I go on, let me say this: I have a pretty firm grasp on reality. I'm absolutely aware of just how difficult life can be. I also realize that "growing up" is an obvious, unavoidable part of life, which places many constraints on our childhood views and aspirations. I'd never deny that we're each faced with a ridiculous number of responsibilities to uphold, bills to be paid, and struggles to overcome. I get it... and I'm not neglecting any of that.

Therefore, this post isn't my crazy attempt to paint a ridiculously-skewed, ass-backwards, rainbow-skittles-backdrop, behind the otherwise-grim actuality of our lives. I'm not trying to invent some kind of bippity-boppity, humpty-dumpty, whistle-while-you-work, fake-ass-fairy-tale-of-a-world... in which we can all survive on simple wishes and gumdrops.

Instead, I'm simply sharing my view of an issue that impacts each of us in some way... affecting our lives, our dreams, and ultimately, our purpose for existence.

However, in doing so, I'm NOT advising anyone to suddenly abandon all responsibility and rationale. I'm not encouraging random, reckless decisions to quit your job, sell your house, or become a wandering gypsy. Okay, moving along...

Here's the deal: I receive a ton of amazing messages and letters from all of you (In fact, I receive so many, that I'm waaay behind on getting back to everyone. But I promise I'm working on it. Okay, back to the purpose of this whole thing...).

In many of those messages, I read words like these:
"I just wish I could do what you're doing..."
"I just wish I'd started at your age..."
"If only I'd followed my heart like you did..."
"If only I could go back and change it..."

These messages are extremely touching --and beyond heartbreaking-- all at once. I'm always affected by the deep emotions within those words: desire, hope, and passion... mixed with sadness, regret, and despair.

As I read those messages, I can't help but think: It just doesn't have to be this way. It shouldn't be this way.

In truth, the very things that these people so desperately wish to do or change... can absolutely be done or changed... but they just don't realize it yet. Or maybe, they just haven't tried.

Instead... at this point in their lives, they almost feel trapped by their existence... burdened by responsibility and circumstance... stuck, anchored, and paralyzed by their own decisions. 

I think we've all felt that way at one time or another. We're human... and being human kinda sucks-ass sometimes. But, really, that whole "being-a-person" thing is actually our greatest strength. It means that we hold the power. That means YOU hold the power.

If you aren't happy with some aspect of your life, I'd just like to encourage you to change that. Especially if the unhappiness stems from feelings of an unfulfilled purpose... which can lead to some of the biggest regrets ever felt in this lifetime.

Of course... we've all heard the phrase: "If you don't like something, just change it." But obviously, this push-for-action is much easier said than done... and seems slightly-mission-impossible. So, I'm certainly not saying, "Just change it. Fast. And now."

In reality, it's just not that easy. Attempting to redirect your life is no kindergarten-cake-walk. But... it can be done. It is possible. Maybe it can't happen today, or tomorrow, or even this year. And maybe it even seems silly to you, at this point in your life, to start changing a bunch of crap... just to follow some distant dream or passion.

My life ain't always pretty
But here's my opinion: if it matters to you, then it matters. And if it matters enough... then it's worth it.

If it seems silly, or pointless, or impossible to you, then just consider the author of this blog post (That would be me). I'm only able to write these words with such conviction, because I've lived it.

If you think that I was simply handed some kind of enchanted existence, full of fairies and pixie dust... well, you're dead wrong. I've never even met a fairy in real life, and trust me-- pixies are stingy as hell with that damn dust.

Instead, my purpose became my path, because I had a well-defined dream, I believed in that dream, and I busted my ass to make it come true. Was it easy? Hell no. Was it worth it? F*** yes.

I worked at jobs that I hated... just to save the money I needed... to do what I love. It wasn't an easy, fun, or fast process. But it certainly wasn't impossible.

Today, I'm able to make a difference with my life, doing what I love. That being said... I'm very honest about my reality...  about the struggles I've faced --and continue to face-- as a result of that decision.

My particular dream didn't lead me to a life of endless stability, security, or ease. In fact, I actually gave all of that up... to follow my dream... to fulfill my purpose.

Sure... it sounds a little crazy... since that's pretty much the complete-and-total opposite of what most people do... or are told to do. Obviously, it's a much more popular choice to simply discard dreams for security, right? 

That works for some people, and there's nothing wrong with it. But, if you're like me... you need both. You've got to make a living... just like every other person... but you refuse to deny who you are in the process.

Call me crazy... but I truly believe that every person who needs both... can have both. More than that, you deserve to have both. You're worth it.

However, it's far from easy. It requires a ton of hard work, determination, and desire. You have to want it. You have to believe that it's possible... and worth it. And, at some point, you have to go for it

It's a journey... a process that's every bit as unique as you are. I can't tell you what will work for you. I can't advise you on how to start. I can only speak from my experience, and share what worked for me...

First, I had to reconsider what it means to "make a living." That is... what it means to me. And for me, how I made that living mattered more than how much I made.

Next, I had to reevaluate everything else.  I had to accept the things I couldn't change, and focus on what I could. I had to honor my responsibilities, while reaching for the possibilities. I had to listen to the concerns in my mind... without ignoring the dreams in my heart.

I had to redefine what it means to be wealthy, successful, and stable. I had to rearrange my priorities, to reflect those new definitions. I had to separate "needs" from "wants" ... and sacrifice "wants" for "needs." I had to adjust my perception of those sacrifices ... to view them as contributions.

Then, I had to develop a plan-of-action. In doing so, I had to balance optimism, pessimism, and realism. I had to recognize the difference between the three. I had to acknowledge the risk of failure... while preparing for success.

Most of all, I had to believe... in a way that made me seem bat-shit crazy to everyone around me. I had to believe in my dreams. I had to believe in my purpose. I had to believe in myself.

The hardest part? At some point, I actually had to do it. I had to take that leap of faith. I had to go for it. I had to try.

I won't lie to you... when I finally jumped, it was scary as hell. I didn't know the outcome. I questioned myself often. I wondered if I'd even make it.

Back then, I lived on pure faith. Even today, that's often how I survive. Is it easy? Hell no. Is it worth it? F*** yes.

At this point, maybe I don't know everything, but here's what I do know: I grew up, but I never gave up. I stayed true to myself. I believed in my purpose. I held onto my dreams. And, in turn, I became what I was always meant to be.

Actually, for me... nothing has ever been more worth it. 

At the end of my life... when I look back on my time here... I'll be able to smile and say:
I lived, and it mattered.

What could possibly be more worth it than that?


  1. I believe anyone can do anything. They just have to want to do it.. I know sometimes those things u want to do, may be too expensive to do for some, but if you can't do it, then pray and ask God to send someone who can.. I don't believe in giving up... I love animals of all kinds...I told someone to watch animals coz we can learn alot from them.. thank you for helping these beautiful dogs

  2. Beautiful!
    ' if it matters to you, then it matters. And if it matters enough... then it's worth it.'

    Taking that leap of faith to do what you love instead of punching a clock for a check is scary.
    I did it. I don't regret it.

    Love to you!

  3. I stole this from my FB friend, Jennifer Muhe. How true this is! ♥~ Along the road to success, there are many tempting parking spots. I've known many people who, along the road to fulfilling their dreams, decided to just pull over. They stopped. They let their dream die. Don't let that be you. ~♥

  4. I DID need to hear this one today. I'm in the process of starting a dog training business, with dog rescue on the side, and it's pretty darn terrifying. You inspire me with every post or sarcastic youtube video to keep going. Thanks Ashley.


  5. Jacinta,
    Thank you so much! Also,I'm so proud of you for following your heart! You should definitely be proud of yourself!

    I know exactly what you mean... about just how terrifying it can be, especially early on. But from my experience, everything seems to have a way of working itself out... when you're doing something that truly matters in this world. I have no doubt that the same will be true for you.

    I'm so glad this post reached you when you needed to hear it. Makes me smile inside :)

    Thank you for all that you do!

  6. Thanks Ashley.
    Great post, you often make me think, and stir up the whispers of the me that got lost along the way, the one with the passion and fire.
    Keep on doing what you do

  7. Ashley, I am so proud of you for doing what you do! You are my hero!

  8. Ashley, good for you for following your heart! You such a wonderful role model. You are sending a very powerful message. Thank you for all you do for the animals.

  9. You are so right! I feel that I'm too afraid to take that leap but that's not a good reason to give up! Thank you for this post.

  10. Ashley, you are wise beyond your years. You are a true inspiration to me and to others. Keep the blog coming because sometimes people have to have a wake-up call, to be reminded. You are that person and I admire you and respect you for all that you do! Animals are my passion too and you really inspire me to keep doing what I do, what I can and what I'm able to do.
    Bless you,
    Rhonda Southern

  11. Great post Ashley...At 60 years old am ready to re-evaluate my life and am considering making some changes to please me...

  12. You are a truly inspiring person. I've decided to follow my dreams, which come with no garauntees of success and your post really helped me feel better about my decision.

  13. What a great article! I related to so much of it and I made the difficult decision to follow my dream and it feels so freakin' good! Keep it up, Lucky Dog Rescue!

  14. Every time you write, I listen and learn. What a remarkable woman you are!

  15. Wow, one can really tell how dedicated you are. Not only the all the work that you do but also the length of you posts. You just just won a new reader for your blog - I am glad I found it on google.

  16. I am always inspired by your posts. As a high school teacher, I hope every day that my students will find their own purposes in life and work as hard as you have to achieve them. I think I'll be sharing this blog post with them, just to see if I can inspire a few of them to dream big dreams.

  17. Ashley, such wonderful and thought provoking words, as always.


  18. Loved your post Ashley. Especially the line 'Follow your heart'.

  19. My husband and I have decided to start a rescue next year, after our bossy kid goes to college and won't be around to complain about all the dogs. Thanks for this post today.

  20. Yes, it matters to me. All three of my cats are rescues, and all but 2 of my dogs were.
    We caused their overpopulation by domesticating, feeding and keeping them.
    Now it's our responsibility to take care of them.
    Compared to the price of all the feral animals, and the sad lives they lead, spay/neuter is very cheap.

  21. Great article, well written and very inspirational. I am a professional photographer that photographs dogs and cats up for adoption.

  22. It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions.


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