How to clean up your life one mess at a time

by Ashley Ballard

AshleyBallardMessQuoteBoy, oh boy… 2015 has started off with a lot of bangs! At the end of last year, my husband and I decided to fly by the seat of our pants and buy the house of our dreams (and by that, I mean a grungy fixer with unlimited potential). Since that decision, it has been one problem after another. It has been quite a roller coaster!

I’ve been stressed, upset, angry, annoyed, the list goes on and on. It felt like everything we’d built had started to crumble around us. I missed my nice clean house and life that was predictable and safe and I really wanted to go back.

But, can we go back? If we went back to our old life, would it be as wonderful as I remembered it to be? In my mind, it’s all rainbows and sunshine, but if it were so perfect, we wouldn’t have decided to move. It’s so funny how we always want what we had when changes in our lives get messy or scary. Our memories are bias to what we know was good, as opposed to the awesome unknown around the corner we had no idea could be so amazing. I decided to see what’s behind the mystery door and press on.

As I scrubbed and scrubbed trying to clear away a stranger’s lifetime of filth, I wanted so desperately to quit. But, at each scouring of a seemingly impossible splooge of God knows what, the moment I was about to give up, the splooge started to disappear. After so many strange spots and stains faded into nothing, I realized if I applied the same tenacity to my life as I did my cleaning, nothing could ever stand in my way.

In Hollywood, things are tough. No one can deny that. It takes a level of perseverance that, on paper, seems insane. However, sometimes, when you least expect it, something beautiful happens that makes it all worth it. I’m not even talking about “making it.” I’m talking about those times when no one is listening and you create something you know in your heart is special. We are artists and art is not the same as fame. We have to enjoy the journey (all the bumps and bruises too) in order to harness our true potential.

After clearing all the cobwebs and dirt, the new house is starting to feel like a home. There’s still a lot more work to do, but I’m feeling very empowered by what I can do if I keep doing it. What I’ve learned is that there are less “ooh ahh” moments and many more subtle improvements. It’s easy to keep going when everything all of a sudden turns shiny and beautiful right before your eyes. Unfortunately, life isn’t always like that. Sometimes, we have to see the little changes our good choices make and not be afraid to get in over our heads a little.

As artists, many of us have a lot of “if onlys” — “If only I get that part.” “If only so-and-so hears this.” Be here. Find the joy in here.

Yes, things can always be better, but maybe understanding and really living in where we are can shed some light on where we aren’t.

I can always clean up a big mess one spot at a time. I can always accept my choices for what they are… choices. Choices can usually be changed, and if not, I know I can handle whatever the outcome is by finding the good and staying in a grateful state of mind. There is always a silver lining to be found and I will not stop until I can see it clearly, glowing in all its glory.

Ashley Ballard

About Ashley Ballard

Ashley Ballard is a recording artist and mother of two. Visit Ashley on Facebook and follow her on Twitter

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