LIFE CHANGES, so why not UPGRADE

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Today’s post is sponsored by Kelley Blue Book®, but you guys know for certain these thoughts came straight from my heart!

It’s Oct. 1st! Last month was my birthday! Do birthdays make you reflect on life goals? How you got to this point in your life…are you where you want to be?  If you’re close to my age, don’t you feel like our 40s are the time to start really settling in to who we are- unapologetically? Start to enjoy a few things you’ve worked so hard for?!

If you’re younger, get a head start… If you’re older, there’s no time like the present.

I am in the midst of some major transitions in life. Starting over again. But this time, not from scratch, from experience. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but I made some great choices this past year that are helping this transition today. Funny how the puzzle of life starts to make sense with time. Little snapshots of my life popped up as I was in traffic recently. I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude. We are the sum of all our experiences. The peaks and the valleys made us who we are RIGHT NOW. And who I am today is a strong woman and mother to the most precious child! Here’s a snapshot of those puzzle pieces, broken down to six concepts:

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1) LET GO OF STUFF. For those of you on social media, you can see I’m still doing that!! It feels so good to be lighter. You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again, when in doubt, throw it out. (Donate the worthy stuff, of course). It certainly helped my recent move that I let some stuff go, but I’m working on paring down even more. Also, when you imagine your pieces/furniture/extra dishes/clothes getting a second life, it makes it more joyful to let it go. Find a women’s shelter and know you will be helping out someone very deserving. Fill up a box and take it to your car so it’s ready next time you are driving by. I’ve found a treasure of new beauty products that I think I’m gonna box up and give to one of you! Pay it forward! Leave a comment letting me know you’re interested (and make sure I have a way of contacting you via email or social media handles!).

2) UPGRADE AN ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. This was a big one and you all were a part of it. I upgraded my car!! I’m so happy I have a reliable car for Hayden and me now. I live in LA and a car is like a second home. What I didn’t share with you at the time was I how I sold my old one with the help of Kelley Blue Book®. I cannot recommend this more. It takes a few minutes online… and you get a Kelley Blue Book Instant Cash Offer. Literally a few minutes with my VIN number. I then took my car in to the local participating dealer in Burbank for a review. It was fast (Hayden and I hung out while they reviewed it). I had time to think about it, but I didn’t need much. I took the Instant Cash Offer and got my check!!  I was a bit confused because I thought it should have been harder! lol. Pro Tip (cause, you know, I’m a pro now…ha!)… communicate with the people at your dealership when you go to redeem your Instant Cash Offer. I explained I had just put new tires on the car, and my cash offer got quite a bit higher! 

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3) DO THE THING THAT YOU HAVE FEARED. Be it big or small. Wanna do stand up comedy? Sing in a band? Start a new business? I didn’t realize that starting this blog a few years ago would have ever been so beneficial. I didn’t think anyone would ever care to visit or read what I had to say! I was honestly scared of failure. But, I have formed a bond with you all and it has been a huge support to me. And it may even be a way for me to help provide for Hayden when I’m not filming. I’m so grateful I just DID IT. I didn’t know HOW. I researched and asked questions of others who have gone before me. And here I am again in life, taking one baby step in front of the other yet again. Somedays, I don’t move at all, but fall. And that is ok. As long as I get back up. That saying, “everything you want is on the other side of FEAR”… well, it’s true. Next up for me: DIRECTING!! WOO-HOO.

4) FREEZE TIME. This is a complicated one, but I’m just going to say it. If you are approaching 40 and have the desire to have a family but don’t yet (I’ve been there and still have that desire to have another one), there are steps you can take with modern medicine. DO IT. I wish I had frozen my eggs in my 30s. This is really a whole other post, but I couldn’t leave out the one thing I wish I had done before I hit 40. If you wanna read a bit more on my journey with this, check out this post here, or here.

5) SERVE OTHERS. Find a way to give back and serve. There are so many ways to do it now…. monetarily sponsor a child, mentor a child or teen, volunteer at your church or local schools or hospitals. I have found one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to give to others. At my most depleted, lowest times when I have no energy and deflated spirit, the BEST thing I can do for myself is help someone else. It renews the soul. It is the highest form of self care when done thoughtfully.

6) PLAN AHEAD. I’ve written posts in the past about financial planning. That research I did and knowledge I’ve gained will come in handy as I’m forging ahead. I look back and think how fortuitous it was that I worked on a financial campaign. But, now it makes sense. I need to heed all the advice I wrote in that blog!! Be smart about your finances. Enjoy life WHILE you are saving.

Ok… that was about all the stuff that popped in my head during traffic yesterday… You know what I would LOVE to hear about from you? What is the one thing you are so PROUD of yourself for doing/making/etc that has helped you out? Think about it and let me know. I bet that list would really benefit each of us! I’ll be reading every comment.

xoxo

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AND ONE MORE FOR THE LADIES...ROTHYS!

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NOW FOR THE ROTHY’S!!! As promised, I didn’t forget about the ladies when we were doing the kids’ back-to-school shoe giveaway. ONE OF YOU WILL WIN A PAIR OF ROTHY'S OF YOUR CHOICE THIS WEEK. And for the guy readers, dads and men in our lives, there will be a giveaway coming for you, too, soon! (PS- they recently launched children’s shoes, too, so you can pick one pair site wide!).

Just in time for running around during the busy back-to-school season (but if you have no ties to school days anymore, these are just chic, comfy and so on trend for anyone). I know this sounds like a sponsored ad, but it’s 100% NOT. It makes me HAPPY to hopefully see a pair on YOUR FEET! You guys do so much for me, I want to do something to give back to y’all!

My Rothy’s are a staple now in my wardrobe and many of you have converted after hearing me talk about them so often. (Like HERE, and in this post and this post about on set, too!) If you’ve followed along on social for a while, you’re aware of the myriad of reasons I wear Rothy’s. Sustainable fashion (check the amount of recycled plastic they are repurposing on their website), WASHABLE, comfortable, slip-ons… are a few of the reasons. I keep a pair in the car for when I’m walking across studio lots for meetings (then will slip into heels right before I walk in;) These go from day to date night, yoga to school pick-ups. I even wore the sneakers all day at Disney recently. One other quick thing… the petal pink ones in these photos I got when I was pregnant with Hayden. Been washing and wearing ever since. They last!

EASY PEASEY ENTRY:

Make sure you’re following us on social:

@ashleyaubra @rothys on instagram

@ashleyjonesofficial on facebook.

Leave a comment here on the blog. That’s it!

For an extra entry for YOU, tag a friend on instagram in the comments on today’s instagram post or the following one up soon!

Winner will be announced this upcoming week. Good luck! Your biggest issue will be picking which pair!!

xoxo

AAJ

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TURNING PASSION INTO PURPOSE

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Thrilled to say I’m partnering again with American Cancer Society; they’re sponsoring the blog today!

What are your plans this summer?? I have an idea! Whatever you may already be doing, add a “good cause” component to it. Turn a passion into purpose! I was honored to work with non-profit health organization American Cancer Society earlier this year talking about cancer prevention. More importantly, it seems many of you also appreciated the topic, which meant a lot to me. I’m all about doing what we can to prevent getting sick, but the truth is that sometimes cancer is unavoidable. #RaiseYourWay is ACS’s summer campaign; we are both summoning YOU for help, read on, please!

Even though #CancerSucks, I want this post to be positive! I’m sharing a recent story of success in our lives. One of Hayden’s precious friends spent the 2nd year of her life battling cancer. Her family was turned upside down, weeks upon weeks in the hospital. Her mother, my friend, is a superwoman. Sweet thing is now almost done with the laborious treatments and cancer free….what a success story. There are many stories like that. But, there should be more. And with our help raising funds for researching treatments, recovery methods and supporting initiatives that provide care during the cancer journey, more and more families will be a living testimony of inspiration. It’s heartbreaking to think of any other outcome. Although I pray for another child, I’m beyond grateful for the healthy ones I have. I cannot imagine how hard it is to go through treatment with your child.

I mentioned my personal scare in this post here. The older I get, a couple of times a year, I hear about someone in my life getting a dreaded diagnosis. I feel paralyzed, somewhat helpless. But a few friends have lead the way to encouraging me to turn that helpless sadness into a purpose. Many of you know my mama on Bold and the Beautiful, the inspiring Katherine Kelly Lang. She has turned her passion into purpose for cancer. I have joined her in the past to raise money, and will most likely -fingers crossed- be joining her on her summer fundraising adventure (she tours the Bold and Beautiful locations around Los Angeles and 100% of the proceeds go toward the cancer organization of her choice).

And my girlfriend that I mentioned above (her toddler is a now a cancer survivor) recently put together a awesome cycling class and donated all the money to cancer research. The American Cancer Society is a national health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer, and their Raise Your Way platform lets you turn any passion into a fundraiser.

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My sons and I want to host a summer beach safety soiree for kiddos (sun-safety outdoors), so here in these photos I’m down at the beach checking out the space to do this. I’m gonna send out an invitation to join us and donate the entire day to ACS. Hayden scoped out Back On the Beach Cafe at The Annenberg Beach House (an awesome spot to go if you’re near Santa Monica/Malibu, btw. Crowded on the weekend if you don’t have reservations.) I’m hoping to raise awareness about prevention, but the goal will be to have everyone #RaiseYourWay and donate a suggested price of $25 to attend through Crowdrise.com/AmericanCancerSociety.

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It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. It could be your own backyard BBQ!! So…Hayden and I are proposing you try and have one yourself! I’ll even make easy and lay the ground work! wink-wink.

Here are some other ideas I’ve been thinking about:

From a recent girls’ event;)

From a recent girls’ event;)

  1. GIRLFRIENDS. Wine/chees/movie night (or a bachelor night)….and DONATE! (MEAN GIRLS came out 15 years ago. I never saw it. My dearest Lacey Chabert is one of the stars. Sounds like a perfect set up for a girls’ night, amiright? lol)

  2. SUMMER BIRTHDAY…no gifts, but please donate. I just went to my girlfriend Ali Fedotowsky Manno’s house for her son Riley’s first birthday. She asked everyone to donate to the charity of her choice in lieu of gifts. I did- many of us did! Loved that idea.

  3. YOGA/SPIN/RUN day. Ask your local yoga studio if they would donate proceeds from one class! That adds up. Send out an email letting your friends know that your fundraising event is happening and you’d love them to join. And if they can’t make it, they can always drop a few dollars;)

These are just my personal ideas… but the point is, anything could work. And it turns a normal get together into a special purpose! I believe people love doing good work. So, given the opportunity, they will give what they can. We all know every $1 adds up. Let them know that you are dedicating the day to raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society. And also… It feeds our soul to DO GOOD for others.

GROUNDWORK:

1) Get creative: come up with an idea

2) Here is a very easy, tax deductible way to set up your event.

3) GO to crowdrise.com/americancancersociety

4) Set up an account or use facebook

5) Follow the prompts (it is sooo easy, I just did it) to create an event and goal.

6) Share your event before and after! Spread the word on your social pages with your friends.

So feed your soul…and tag me on social media when you do. I’m looking foward to reposting/retweeting/commenting on your adventures. And let’s inspire each other… what ideas do you have that others might implement?  Comment below and let’s get this (fundraising) party started!

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Step Up 2018 INSPIRATION AWARDS

Those of you that have been visiting this blog and know me are aware of Step Up Women's Network. Last year, I was overwhelmed with gratitude at the generosity of many of you for your donations on my birthday! I still can't believe it.  

(quick sidenote: I'm reading the comments below. Thank you to those sharing your own experiences!)

Needless to say, it was great to be hosting another Inspiration Awards. Lacey Chabert and I have joined forces and gathered our friends in hopes of spreading the word about what Step Up does.  It was a beautiful day. 

Beverley Mitchell, Kimberly brown, briana cuoco, kaley cuoco, lacey chabert, katilin vilasuso

Beverley Mitchell, Kimberly brown, briana cuoco, kaley cuoco, lacey chabert, katilin vilasuso

Highlights:

Every year, one girl is chosen to share her moving, inspirational "testimony." About 20-30 girls walked out on stage and reported where they will be attending college next year. The majority of these girls are first generation high school graduates. Another group of alumnae (it looks like I misspelled that, but I looked up the plural form of female graduates!) came out and shared where they already graduated and where they will be working. It's such a honor to listen to them talk about their successes. I loved watching my friend Kaitlin Vilasuso's reaction to hearing about Step Up for the first time.

I loved that the high school girls of Step Up that want to be journalists were in the press line asking questions. I was asked what I would tell my younger self 20 years ago. Such a good question for us to all ask ourselves!! I said, "Oh, hope you do not worry so much. It's all gonna work itself out. Focus on the present and be your best YOU today." Now, if I can only take my own advice. Oh, and then I added to enjoy your youth! 

Regina Hall was honored. My favorite line she said to the Step Up girls: pursue excellence, not likes. In a world of social media, this is so important. 

Finally, and selfishly, I love this day because I get to see many friends all in one place. They inspire me. 

This year, I am vowing to do more in the mentorship department. Every little helps, whether we are giving our time or a little donation, or a big one. Programs like Step Up make it very feasible for us to make a difference in someone's life.

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The picture above with Lacey Chabert and journalist and activist Lisa Ling was also taken two years ago when we were all pregnant. We promised each other to get the littles together for a playdate soon.

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Since I do talk about fashion here.... here are a few details on the clothes/my dress. I liked wearing this dress- at $65, you can't really go wrong. Perfect for year round parties, summer weddings, etc. It comes in five colors, so check it out. I am wearing a size us 4 and it was very fitted. I actually had to clasp the back before I zipped it up, but it holds you in really well. I love the cobalt blue and just ordered a 6 to see the difference. Nordstrom is so easy to return if it doesn't work. I also found it on Topshop's site HERE in a deeper blood red!! On both sites, they are selling fast, FYI.

And I have about worn out my nude heels-- right now they are on sale under $50. These elongate your legs (close toed or open strappy). Since the bow and the red color were the focus of my dress, I kept the jewelry to a minimum. I did my own makeup which sometimes works for me and sometimes doesn't. Ha! I like this great highlighter to even out my skin and make my shoulders and cheekbones shine a bit (use sparingly) on top of my lotion. I attempted to use a self tanner the night before, but it didn't work that well overnight, so I mixed Sally Hansen's spray on tan (they also make a body makeup) with baby lotion!

(Tip: if you do this, mix it well. Use more lotion that spray. I stand over an old towel because it can get little bits of makeup on the floor. I quickly take the blow dryer and go over my body to set it once it looks even enough. THEN BEFORE I PUT ON THE DRESS, I take the old towel and gently rub over my legs and arms to make sure the makeup doesn't rub off on the dress. This sounds like a lot of work, and it IS! But, for certain events, it's worth it and once I got the hang of it, I can do it very fast. This was how we evened out my skin in all those swamp scenes on True Blood. On Bold and Beautiful or other soaps, we have BODY MAKEUP artists that come and make your skin even and tan and glow. No joke! Many actresses like to spray tan regularly so they don't have to wear so much body makeup.)

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taking a quick selfie with Lisa Ling

taking a quick selfie with Lisa Ling

Finally, I have to mention a few of the other gorgeous dresses my friends wore. I am VERY into polka dots and fun prints. Amy Davidson wore the cute dress with a cut out back- darling summer frock. And Beverley Mitchell wore the pretty floral print. My girlfriend Kaitlin Vilasuso wore the stunning white Ted Baker dress. 

Thanks for visiting!! 

Have a great week....

xoxo AAJ

reflecting on 2017, MY THANK YOU TO YOU.

As I reflect back on 2017, I realize how grateful I am to YOU.

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THANK YOU FOR VISITING THIS SITE and generously contributing ideas. I'm especially grateful for your recent comments some of you left on this post HERE: you really inspired me to want to write more on the blog. You also sparked great ideas for the column in Soap Opera Digest for 2018. Thank you! I hope to make this a fun endeavor for all of us. 

THANK YOU FOR ENGAGING ON SOCIAL MEDIA. I enjoyed live tweeting with you all during my first day back on General Hospital, the Lifetime movie, and the Christmas movie. It’s fun to get to go back and forth with you all during an air show. I consider this a privilege to get to be on your screens at home.  Hoping 2018 brings more opportunities to engage and (hopefully) entertain you.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ENTHUSIASM with the line of soaps I’m hoping to continue. I appreciate your comments in the post HERE and DMs! 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROSITY. YOU all are inspiring. Getting to chat with some of you who called in to donate to the Red Cross for Houston was an honor. I sat next to Maurice Barnard for part of that time and we were overwhelmed by the response. As many of you know, my hometown of Houston was flooded beyond anything anyone could imagine. My grandparents’ house was ruined. My uncle’s house is gone… aunt and uncle’s dental business had to be rebuilt from ground up. I could go on and on about extended family and friends. It makes you reevaluate what really is important.  

Then, Los Angeles felt your support and prayers during the recent fires. I am only discussing tragedies that affected me personally…. the hardships of 2017 around the country and the world are too vast and deep for me to attempt to discuss them all.  How heartwarming it is to see people rally around each other… to those of you that are still recovering from 2017 hardships, may 2018 be a year of renewal and prosperity. 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR WISHES. When we moved into our first home as a family earlier this year, your well wishes were appreciated. Nothing makes me feel happier and more accomplished than when my husband and kids seem happy in our new home, but it takes a long time to get settled! And your wishes when our children celebrated their 1st and 5th birthdays. When I met my stepson Huck, he was just a little bigger than Hayden. Now, he’s a backpack wearing, money counting, video playing smart little kindergartener. And Hayden… he learns a new word everyday. He takes things apart and figures out how to put them back together (he is his father’s son). He got his passport in 2017, too! And THANK YOU to those of you that tirelessly coordinated the greatest birthday gift for me: donating an incredibly generous amount to Step Up Women's Network, an organization near and dear to me. I'm still speechless! 

Looking ahead, I’m making some spiritual, personal and professional goals right now. Do you all make lists of resolutions or goals for the upcoming year? If you feel like sharing, I think it’s a great way to hold ourselves accountable. I’ll be posting some of mine in the next few days. Still finishing up the list;) Maybe you’ll be inspired to share with me? God Bless. And Happiest of Years ahead.