I had the opportunity to meet with the gorgeous and beautifully talented Ashley Berry and felt such an ease opening up to each other and discussing our self healing journeys. She is going after her passions and diving into her creativity. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the amazing people I am meeting on this journey. I hope Ashley Berry’s self healing journey empowers you to follow your passions and facilitates more self love.
What is self love to you and how did you find self healing for yourself?
To me, self love is about honoring and nurturing the unique, wonderful, complex being that you are. This is definitely not something that I was always good at. I had a fairly complicated family life while I was growing up and spent much of my early childhood with a single father who struggled with mental illness and eventually committed suicide. I experienced abuse and a great deal of instability and this definitely impacted me in deep ways. By the time I went away to college, I was a bundle of pent up emotions with very little in the way of coping skills. I went through a handful of years of being quite self-destructive and didn’t take very loving care of my mind, body, or spirit. Eventually, I found myself crumbling under the burden of depression and anxiety and knew that, if there was any hope of me having a good and happy life, I was going to need to make some very major changes.
I took small steps at first, distancing myself from the heavy-partying crowds I had been running with and starting to exercise regularly. With each shift, I felt better and was even more inspired to do things that truly supported my health and happiness. It wasn’t a straight line, for sure, and I definitely had moments where I fell back into old, negative patterns, but over the years, I developed an array of powerful self healing practices. I now think of these practices as my wellness toolkit and I implement these tools regularly to create a life that very much supports my wellbeing.
Every time I make a beautiful, nourishing meal for myself, spend time meditating, go for a hike on one of my favorite trails, or use creative outlets like writing and making visual art to express myself, I know that I’m sending my body, mind, and spirit the message that I love myself and will care for myself accordingly. It’s a form of self-respect and also a way of showing gratitude for the great gift of being able to live this life, in this body, right now.
On your self healing journey what let you to wellness coaching and writing?
While it makes total sense that I would translate my personal experiences and the health and wellness knowledge I’ve gained over the years into helping others create greater wellbeing in their own lives, it was definitely not the most obvious path to me. Most likely due in great part to my complicated family life, psychology has always been fascinating to me. I double majored in Psychology and Sociology at UC Berkeley and then went on to pursue a Masters of Arts in Clinical Psychology with plans to be a Marriage and Family Therapist, but once I started working with clients as a therapist-in-training, I knew that I wasn’t on exactly the right track. While there were things that I loved about the work, the emotional heaviness of it was taking a serious toll on my physical health and I found myself craving more opportunities for creativity.
After a period of feeling completely lost, I did the unthinkable and dropped out of my program, despite only having another 6 months of practicum to be able to receive my degree. I didn’t really have a clear plan at the time, but I felt called to start over again with a clean slate and felt like it would be nice to do that somewhere sunny, so I moved back to Los Angeles, where I had spent my high school years. I explored my interests by taking a number of seemingly random jobs and eventually found my way into writing.
I had always loved writing, both in school and for personal enjoyment, and when I found myself creating content for digital publications on the topics of music, food, and culture and absolutely loving the work, I wondered why I had never considered pursuing writing professionally before! Over time, I found myself more and more drawn to working with publications and clients who were wellness-oriented, whether that meant that they had a wellness business or brand or simply placed a high value personally on wellbeing practices. I developed a niche creating content for these clients and eventually had another “a-ha moment”, in which I realized that I not only wanted to support wellness brands, but also wanted to have a more direct impact on individuals and communities that want to find ways to create lifestyles that support their minds, bodies, and spirits. It definitely took an extended period of standing on the edge of the cliff, metaphorically speaking, but I eventually knew that I had to take the plunge and decided to enroll in a wellness coaching certification program.
Digging deeply into the study of wellness over the last year has been an absolutely amazing experience, and I’m so excited to launch the second branch of my business this year, which will entail a variety of wellness consultation services from one-on-one wellness coaching to personalized, in-home cooking and meal planning trainings.
Tell us about the live well series
The Live Well Series is a project that I’ve been dreaming up for quite some time now. I absolutely love connecting with other wellness-minded individuals and learning all about the self healing practices that allow them to be their very best selves. The Live Well Series is a collection of interviews, in which voices from the wellness world share the practices, tools, and tips that they use to live vibrantly healthy, happy, and balanced lives. The best thing about this series is that it displays how truly personal and unique wellness is to each individual. While one person may love intense workouts and a clearly defined diet, meditative forms of movement and a more flexible relationship with food might work better for another person. Readers can explore what wellness looks like to a variety of people and pick and choose what practices they might like to try out in their own lives.
How do you create sacred space for self love for yourself in your bedroom?
Especially as someone who tends to take on stress easily and struggles with winding down at the end of the night and getting restful sleep, my bedroom is most definitely a sacred space. I keep it very simple with only a bed, a side table, and a chest of drawers. All of the décor is soothing and echoes nature with lots of wood and a soft, muted color palette. I get lots of natural light during the day, but once the sun goes down I keep the lighting very dim with just a table lamp and a Himalayan pink sea salt lamp that gives off the most calming glow. I do my best to keep work out of the space and reserve it for sleep, relaxation, and intimacy so that my body and mind can naturally shift into a mode of pleasure and rejuvenation whenever I step in my bedroom.
I love your post called “Love Yourself First” and how it gives a real life example of setting boundaries and taking care of your self first so that you are able to care for others. This is a strong message to send especially to mothers who have to do it all and feel guilty giving even an ounce of times for themselves. Please share on this topic.
I was definitely a little nervous when I wrote “Love Yourself First” because I was worried that my sister might feel bad about how much I struggled while I was trying to help her, but I also felt like it was a very important experience to share. It was an especially powerful lesson for me because, if someone who spends their life focused on wellness practices can get so incredibly thrown off in just a couple of weeks of visiting a new mother, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for new mothers (and fathers) to maintain any sense of balance in their lives, particularly in those first few months. This is why I think it’s so vitally important for everyone who takes care of or oversees others, whether they’re new mothers, caretakers for someone who is elderly or ill, or high-powered professionals, to be clear about what their bottom lines are for maintaining their own health and happiness and to realize that they will be much more able to show up for these very important roles when they make sure to nurture their own wellbeing first and foremost. I realized very quickly that I was going to be of no help to my sister if I was having a meltdown from sleep deprivation, and even though I wanted to have super human capabilities during that period of time, I ultimately had to honor my body’s needs in order to be able to show up for her and my little nephew.