Hi. My name is Ashley. In 2006, on the outside of my life, everything looked perfect. I was an active, young mom and attorney with a healthy new baby and an awesome husband. I’d go hiking or skiing on the weekends, and I had fun things like a retirement fund and vacation plans.
But the outside is not the right place to look if you want to know how a person is really doing. Isn’t this the great lesson of Facebook? Under the surface of my over-achiever life where I got accolades, I was a miserable person. None of my friends would say that, but I’m pretty sure my now ex-husband would. I struggled with depression because I didn’t love myself. And I worked my ass off attempting to prove my worth, so much so that I almost worked myself to death.
Specifically, in 2006 I became so run down with stress that I caught a rare flesh-eating bacterial pneumonia and ended up in a coma after almost flat-lining. I had so much fluid leaking into my body cavity that I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on a ventilator….. and not the cute Stay Puft man on the marshmallow bag, but, rather, the raging, fire-breathing one from Ghost Busters.
When I woke up from the coma two weeks later, cross-eyed and 95 pounds, little did I know that my health and life problems were just beginning.
Over the next ten years, I would recover from one ailment only to have another health or life problem consume me. I literally could not put together a year without another catastrophe. And these were not minor problems: chronic fatigue syndrome, recurrent pneumonias, being bedridden, autoimmune disease, disability, alcoholism of a loved one, adverse drug reaction that landed me in a mental hospital, job loss, failed marriage, exposure to toxic black mold and mold illness, loss of all my worldly possessions, near bankruptcy, homelessness, and living out of a car. Suffice it to say, I lost everything.
Through it all I just kept trying to fix it. Because that’s what overachievers do. I became an expert on natural health. I researched the hell out of everything. I thought if I worked hard enough out there, it would all be better. “I can fix this mess,” I thought.
Except I couldn’t. No matter how much I struggled in the outer world, things didn’t get any better. In fact, things got objectively worse the harder I tried. Worse and worse and worse. Until there was nothing left. Finally, in January 2016, penniless, possession-less, sick, living in my parents’ guest room out of state without my son, I gave up.
And it set me free.
Realizing that all of my efforts in the outer world were for naught, I decided that I needed to work on my inner world. I had been raised in a family full of ministers and Sunday School teachers, but I always felt like an outsider. My very expensive education had punched so many holes in God that I was an agnostic who believed there was something more but didn’t quite know what. I viewed the Bible as a self-help book full of stories, and yoga filled in the rest. I never prayed. In fact, I thought prayer was pretty pointless, because I didn’t believe that God or the universe participated in this world. As I sat down in my parents’ guest room, this was the “faith” that I had to work with.
I started reading everything I could get my hands on from different spiritual sources and books that I randomly found, books seemingly meant for me to find. I started meditating and praying.
But, most importantly, I changed my mindset. I quit trying to fix my outer world and gave it up to something bigger than myself. I came to realize: that none of what I lost was mine; that it wasn’t about me; that even with nothing, I had so much for which to be grateful. I accepted that I was homeless and asked that I be taught what I needed to learn. And I believed that in time I would be delivered. Specifically, I expected the universe to provide me with an affordable carriage house or duplex within a certain 6×6-block radius in my son’s school district, an incredibly high order considering my financial situation (Since I had been looking, I could only afford sad and musty Section-8-like apartments.)
Gratitude. Acceptance (i.e. Forgiveness). Belief.
And for the first time in 10 years, I felt at peace, despite my outer world.
Within hours after I gave up and shifted from fear to love, a series of events unfolded where the money to rent a new place suddenly fell in my lap, and my parents agreed that it was time for me to go back. I anxiously went online to look for a place after months of not looking. I went straight on Zillow, and the first thing that popped up at the top of the search was a carriage house, more beautiful than I could have ever imagined, surrounded by a lush garden and huge yard, in the 6×6-block radius for which I asked, at an affordable price.
I called the landlord and, even though he had had a ton of applicants, he all but told me on the phone that the place was mine.
These “whoas” began what would become a shift in my perspective about the nature of reality and humanity’s role in the cosmos. As I stayed in gratitude and trust, mini-miracles flew out of the woodwork over the next several months, and I started researching science trying to figure out what the hell was going on.
What I found was nothing that I had ever been taught in school. I found that there were some Nobel-prize-winning quantum physicists in the early and mid twentieth century who proposed the existence of a non-local consciousness, or “God,” as a solution to many of the paradoxes in physics. Turns out whether you call it God, the universe, spirit or karma, you can also call it science. And it is as feasible as any other scientific theory. Furthermore, this science melds with the mystical traditions of all major religions, including Christianity.
So I set out on a journey to find more science bearing on the nature of reality and find out if this understanding of the world can make our lives better. And I started this blog to share what I am learning on the journey.
It’s a journey, because life will always bring its pain. We are human. We will suffer, and we will fail. And we will be total assholes to each other. But we can choose to be lifted off the battlefield even in the midst of adversity. And science seems to suggest that if we get off the battlefield mentally and spiritually, the battlefield will objectively change for the better in our favor.
So this blog is about getting off of the battlefield and finding a better life where science and spirituality intersect.
Most importantly, though, this blog is for you if you find yourself in that hopeless, dark place of despair and grief, cut off from others who could never understand the blackness. It’s for you if you feel cursed and ashamed at your misfortune, like you are to blame. You need to know I have been where you are, and I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. The door to liberation is in the pit of hell, and you will find it if you look. Because the universe wants you to find it.
How do I know this? As I sat in a car repair place contemplating a huge repair bill I could not afford after having lost all my possessions, sick as a dog from toxic mold, believing that I would again become bedridden from illness, I cried on the phone to a friend. In the middle of this, a woman walked up to me and handed me a card and gave me a hug and left. On the card, it said, “The Lord your God himself shall fight for you. Deuteronomy 3:22” And she was right.
It wanted to be found.