Month: August 2018

Emotions and Hormones… A Monthly Thing

IMG_4717

This weekend was a tough weekend for me. I went to a place mentally that I have been in a long time. Many of you know that I recently went off birth control. I went off birth control because I needed to experience my monthly cycles, which I had not experienced in over 7 years.

This is my 5th period since I stopped taking birth control. The first 4 periods were not that emotionally and hormonally tough. My thoughts were not the best and I cried. This time it was not like that. My thoughts were out of control. I cried, screamed, and wasn’t here mentally. I think some of that has to do with a few things.

First, the doctor told me that I could have endometriosis. The symptoms and my family history leads him to think it could be something I have. The doctors told me to watch my period as I had them. I needed to notice pain and other symptoms to see. The pain and symptoms have started to increase slowly. This weekend the pain was horrible. I could not get out of bed for the first 24 hours. I had a headache that caused me to just sleep. I had stomach cramps that made me want to vomit. I had to change my tampons every 2 hours. My breast have felt like balloons. Some of these symptoms have subsided slightly so I can function. Two things haven’t gone away.  I do not want to be touched and I do not want to be around people. My body feels very foreign to me. I don’t feel like my body is a part of me. I feel alien to my body. I need to go back to the doctors to get more tests done for a definitive answer on whether or not I have endometriosis.

Second, my period was late. Since I have a boyfriend and I am not on birth control, this had me stressed in ways I have never been stressed before. We use protection. We also only had sex based on my cycle. There were times I knew I was at a higher chance of pregnancy so we abstained from sex during that time. Neither of us want children right now (he has 3 already). We had to have a conversation about what would happen if I never started my period. This was not easy for either of us. It was harder on me because I am not ready for children. This would leave me to figuring out what I would actually do if I was. I didn’t want to have to think about that. This added stress to body. I used the stress relieving techniques I normally use. And they helped until my period actually started.

There two factors, really had a huge impact on my emotional state this weekend. I started my period Friday morning. By Saturday morning, I was a complete mess. I pushed Jonathan away completely. I told him things that I didn’t really believe. I said things that I know were hurtful to him. I know I was a (excuse my language) a bitch. I went couldn’t think. I couldn’t process anything. I tried speaking to my mom and that helped me see certain things I need to work on. Yet, it didn’t help with the emotionally feelings I was having. I lost it. I was completely unconscious of what was happening. I was screaming, crying, and thinking things like I had no control over myself.

It makes me sad that I went there. I thought I had moved past that part of me. I realize that I still have work to do. I was going to go back on birth control in November. After this, I am not sure that is the best thing for me to do. I want to be able to work through these times without the help of drugs. I want to be able to feel my body and my emotions. So that, if I ever do get pregnant, I am prepared for the hormonal and emotional changes that take place during and after the pregnancy. I do not want to go to the place I was at yesterday while I have a child I need to be there for.

I am not planning on having a child any time soon. For everyone, that knows me well, knows that I don’t want a child until I am 37. Why that age? I don’t know. It is just an age that stood out to me to have a child. I have some work I want to do with myself before I have a child. And age 37 seemed like the right amount of time.

After this whirlwind of a weekend, I am okay. I remember that I am not dying. I am not going crazy. I am burning. I am burning to ashes. And it’s okay. Because I am a Phoenix.

If you’re a woman who goes through emotions and things similar to me during their period, know that you are not alone. There are others out there that experience similar things to you. Stay strong because we are strong and powerful. We can overcome the emotions and hormonal changes.

For all the men who have a woman that deals with this, know that it is hard for them. Love them, support them, and let them know they are strong. Do something to help make their life easier during a stressful time. It’s not easy for us and sometimes we aren’t ourselves.

A Letter to a Death Row Inmate

Some of you are wondering what and why I wrote to a death row inmate. Here is why…

I recently watched the Netflix series “I am a killer”. Episode 9, Living with consequences, touched my heart. Joshua Nelson killed a friend because he wanted his car. It was a horrible and messed up action that he took to gain a car. He is now living on death row awaiting his execution date.

The episode talked about his childhood. It was said that he was sexually abused by his mother’s boyfriend or husband (I can’t remember exactly). This is not something a child should have to experience in their lives, ever. It does not excuse his actions later in life. It does, however, show a history that could have influenced his way of thinking. The same day he committed the crime, his mother had kicked him out of his house because of something the man had said to her. I do know that he had talked about killing someone prior to the incident with his mother. I am not saying this man is wrong or that he is right. He did something horrible and he should have consequences for his actions. Do I think he should be executed for his crime? No, I do not think he should be. I think he should live the rest of his life in prison.

As you all know, I do a lot of work within myself. I do what I can to support people through difficult and/or amazing times in their lives. I want to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves as they can. I felt that I needed to let this man know the things I wrote because I believe he has understood what he has done. I feel that he has really taken the time to get in touch with himself. I could not let a man on death row die without knowing someone out there understands and sees the things he wants people to see.

People may have some negative reactions to this. That is fine. I am at peace with what I have written. I am at peace with the fact that not everyone will understand the reasons behind what I wrote.

For the first part of the letter I wrote some personal things about my mother’s past to relate to him in the way I felt I needed too. Out of respect for my mom and her journey with her past I left this part out of the letter. This may make the letter seem off because a huge part was left out. I thought about not posting the letter and keeping it to myself as well. Something inside me says that I have to post this for some reason or another that is unknown to me at this time. One day, I will know the reason I had to post this.

So…. The letter I wrote to a Death Row Inmate…

Nelson, Joshua, #0-989102
​Union Correctional Institution
7819 N.W. 228th Street
Raiford, Florida 32026-4000

 

Hello Joshua,

My name is Ashley Sprinkel. I watched the show “I am a killer” on Netflix. I watched your episode. By the end, I was moved to write you a letter. Your story touched me in a way that I had to find a way to let you know what was on my heart.

I know what I went through is nothing compared to what you have been through. I do not know what my letter will do for you and you’re life. I felt lead to write what is on my heart so I am sharing what is in my heart. Here is my story…

For you to understand a little bit about why I am writing this I have to tell you a bit about myself. I am an American living and working in Costa Rica. Getting here was not an easy thing for me to accomplish. I grew up in a household that was intense for many parts of my childhood. I can put myself in your shoes because of the experiences I have had…..

(deleted section)

I am working to overcome my defects that I have from my childhood. I am learning to forgive and be at peace with many things. I have always dealt with depression and anxiety. I followed what everyone told me I should do. I have hurt many people with my actions and words. I was emotionally crazy. I would yell and scream and blame everyone for my problems. It was never my fault. I lived as though no one loved me and everyone would leave. Since my mom had her childhood issues to deal with and my dad worked during the day and went to school at night I only had my grandmother. She died when I was 9 and my life changed. I felt as though I didn’t have anyone and everyone I loved was going to leave. This affected me in many, many ways. That are not really important for this letter. Fast forward a little….

I got married when I was 21. By the time, I was 23 I was getting divorced. He had left me for another woman. I lost myself completely. He was my life, so when he was gone I didn’t know what to do with myself. My depression and anxiety were the worst I had experienced. I missed work for a week. I drank every weekend to numb the pain. This lasted for about 2 months. I got to the point where I needed a better life than the one I was living. So, I screamed and yelled to the universe to show me the way to a better life. I will fight and I will do everything I possibly can to grow and be the person I know I am supposed to be. This was 7 year ago. I have kept that promise. I figured out what my purpose in life was. I figured out why I go through the things I go through. I have forgiven people and learned things about myself and life I never knew was possible.

Two years ago, I graduated college and got recently engaged. I started teaching at a local charter school. I was so excited to start teaching and influencing young children. This lasted for about 5 months. I got physically sick because of the stress the school environment caused me. I spoke to my fiancé and we decided it was best for me to quit even though I didn’t have another job lined up. I left worked and never went back. I tried to get a job for three weeks after this. I had many offers. None of them were something that would work for me. I have always wanted to teach abroad. Me and my fiancé talked about me going away for a year to experience a different culture and to live on my own for once. He agreed and a month later I was in Costa Rica.

That happened a year and half ago. This has been one of the most amazing years of my life. I am no longer engaged because I realized he wasn’t the man for me. I have a peace and love for life, I have never had before. I realized what my purpose was for this life. My purpose is to change the world. The things I go though and feel have helped me add something good to this world. I started a blog about the things I learn and grow from. I have been writing it since I decided to move to Costa Rica. I no longer deal with depression. I have a relationship with my family that I could never have imagined would be possible. I have inspired many people, some I know and some I have never met. My blog and way of living and thinking has been an encouragement for me and others. This brings me to why I am writing you this letter.

As I watched your story, I felt the conviction and heart you have for what you have done. I wanted you to know that there is someone out there that your story has touched. I want you to know that yes you did something horrible and you can have freedom from that. Even if no one forgives you, you can forgive yourself. You can give yourself the redemption that you need to have before you go into your next life. I realized that I have the ability to free myself from any situation with my thoughts and way of thinking about things. I believe that being in the cell alone has helped you see who you really are. Being alone with yourself makes you face yourself. Being alone is one of the best things you can give yourself. That is where you can find freedom even though you are trapped in a cell. I want you to know that I believe that you have grown from the crime you committed. Your facial expressions, tone of voice, and energy have shown me that you are at peace. You have given yourself the best gift you could. You do not deserve to die for the crime you committed. Other people who were on the show don’t have the same energy and understanding about what they did as you do. Society is not fair because people are blinded by their own past just as you were when you committed your crime. I can see you without seeing what you have done. I don’t see a murder. I see a man that is sorry for what he has done. I see a man that wants a chance to show the world who he really is. I see a man who has spent some time dealing with himself so he could live the best life he can with the situation he is in. You are more than the crime you committed. I know I am not telling you something you don’t already know. I am telling you this because I don’t want you to die thinking no one saw who you really are.

I understand that things aren’t always cut and dry. Things aren’t always what they seem to be. It is up to us as individuals to see that. It is up to us to change the world by changing ourselves. You have inspired me to keep doing what I am doing. I know that people will think I am crazy for writing an inmate on death row the things I have written. And I do not care because I felt this is what I needed to do.

Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being an inspiration for me to keep living my purpose. I am thankful for your story. Keep the peace you have within yourself. I hope that this letter leaves you well.

 

Sincerely,

Ashley

Ways to Lower Stress

I have been a bit stressed lately. I have many things going on such as prepping for a new school year and conquering some fears. As some of you know, when I get stressed my body goes out of whack. It makes life hard for me when that happens so taking care of my stress levels is very important. There are many things that I can do to help control the stress so my body stays healthy. Here are a few…

  1. Physical Exercise:

There are many types of physical exercise that can help lower stress. Swimming in the ocean and running have been a lifesavers for me. Running is great for an immediate change in my mental state. Running requires a lot of breathing. Since it is high impact, you can feel the pain from running right away, which helps bring me into the moment. Swimming in the ocean is low impact so I don’t feel the pain as quickly as I do when I run. I really love the salt from the ocean. It helps take out toxins and other emotional energies that are pent up inside.

  1. Deep Stomach Breathing:

Most people, do not do a complete breathing. They breathe very shallow, only into their lungs. When breathing is done correctly, it is done all the way into your stomach. When I do deep breathing to help lower my stress, I start with a huge breath in. The breath starts in my stomach and ends in my upper lungs. Then I release from my upper lungs down to my stomach. This is done slowly and consciously. It keeps my heart and head in the moment. I notice when I do not do this type of breathing I get overwhelmed more easily.

  1. Essential Oils:

Essential oils are good for many things. I use them for my IBS and other ailments I may have. They come in handy for stress in many ways. I use DoTerra brand because I love some of the combinations they have available. There are a few I use for stress. Elevation blend is used in my diffuser. If I am on the go and can’t diffuse the oil, I rub it on my chest. I also use Balance blend. This one is rubbed behind my ears. I put the oils on my pointer finger, cross my arms, and rub it behind my ears. This helps keep my emotions balanced. Intune is another one I use to help me stay focused on what it is that I need to do. I rub it on the back of my neck and bottoms of my feet. Lastly, Lavender helps me stay calm and relaxed. I add this to a little spray bottle and spray it on my sheets and clothes.

  1. Writing:

Writing is one of the best ways for me to lower my stress levels. Since my head tends to over think things it helps to get it all down on paper. I write whatever comes to mind.  This does two things for me. One, it helps me see things in a more realistic manner. When I put it on paper, I am able to see if I am over reacting or not. Second, it helps me order my thoughts so I can see what is more important for me to accomplish. Sometimes we think we need to do everything right now, when some things can wait.

  1. Keeping a Healthy Mindset:

When I am dealing with stressful situations, it is imperative that I make sure my mental thoughts are positive. It has taking me a long time to be able to keep my mental thoughts positive even when everything is going to shit. I have come to enjoy the roller coaster of life events. Instead of saying “why me”, I say “bring it on”. Instead of saying “this is too much”, I say “thank you”. There are so many positive things we can do with our speech that can have a huge impact on how we get through a stressful time.

 

These are just a few of the things I do when I am stressed. I would love to hear what things you do to keep your stress levels low. Let me know what you do and how it works for you!

Te Quiero vs. Te Amo

I have been experiencing so much this past month. Everything from a second degree burn to riding a motorcycle for over 7 hours. I want to write about something that I am learning about the Spanish and English languages.

There are many things that I do not like about the Spanish language compared to English. I find that some words I love to use in English do not translate in a way that I would like it too. However, there are words in English that I am finding are not well defined as it is in Spanish.

One of those Phrases is “I love you”. In English, we use I love you when talking about many things. We use it when talking about our cell phones, our family and friends, our significant others. It is used in many ways.

In Spanish, you have “te quiero” and “te amo”, both translate into “I love you”. Since I have been dating, I have had a few men say “te quiero” to me. This freaked me out because I don’t need a guy “loving” me after a few days of going out with them. I asked a few people to explain the difference to me. No one has explained it to me in a way that made sense to me until recently. Jonathan explained it to me like this…

“Te quiero” is like I love my phone. It’s like “I want you”, more than “I love you”. You can always upgrade your phone when you don’t want it any more. It is also said when you are boyfriend and girlfriend because you could always upgrade them to someone better. “Te quiero” has no commitment or no responsibility, it is just a feeling “Te amo” is used when it is final, there is no upgrade. You really “love” them. You use this with your spouse or family. With your family, you love them no matter what. This doesn’t change. When you marry, it is supposed to be final. With “Te amo”, you don’t give up on that person. It means you know the flaws and all and you chose to still love them.

Once I figured this out, I didn’t freak out as much. I am able to see the difference. I would love for there to be a difference in the “I love you” phrase in the English language. I like you a lot and I love you are different. I feel that “te quiero” is in between the two.

I like having the difference in meaning behind the words “I love you” because there are different types of love. There are many other words used for this is Spanish. “me encanta”, is another one that relates to love. This is used more with objects and places rather than people. Google translates this as “I adore”.

I had questions about what love really was before I moved here. Being immersed in a different culture with a different language has opened my eyes to many things related to love and relationships. It is pretty amazing!

He asked… it’s not what you think!

Last night, Jonathan asked me to be his girlfriend. First… who does that? And second… it was perfect!

I do not think I have ever had a man ask me to be his girlfriend. Most of the time we just date and eventually we “assume” that we are boyfriend and girlfriend. When you start to meet each other’s families you then know that you are boyfriend and girlfriend.

After I moved, to Costa Rica I was talking with some friends about dating and relationships. She told me that she never does certain things with a guy until he asks her to be her boyfriend. This made me think for a little bit. Then I forgot about it until I was in a “relationship” with a guy (you all know who he is. I write about him a lot.) I had “assumed” he and I were boyfriend and girlfriend like I had done with everyone in the past. This turned out to be wrong. We were not boyfriend and girlfriend. This caused a lot of issues, I am pretty sure I wrote about in a previous post.

Since then, I have made sure that if the relationship went past a certain point the man would ask me. I have only had one guy ask me since then, until now…

Yesterday, was a month since Jonathan and I met. He is the new maintenance man for my landlord. I first saw him when he came to fix my A/C a month and half ago. He and I didn’t talk because I had a friend over and he was busy helping my landlord with the A/C.

Two weeks after that I saw him making a new trash can for the apartment out front. I was standing on the side of the road waiting for the bus to come. I was headed to Liberia and Playas del Coco with a friend. I thought about going over and talking to him. Something about him made me smile. I decided not to because I needed to figure out this bus situation. I went about my day thinking about him a few times throughout the day. Around 5pm, my friend and I were at a bus stop in Filadelfia. We were talking about guys. I told her about the new maintenance man. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t married or seeing anyone, so I asked my landlord is he was single. They said he is separated. I asked them to give him my number for me. Within a few minutes, he messaged me. We have been talking and going on adventures ever since. We have had some communication issues since he doesn’t speak English. It has shown me so much about myself. I have posted about some of it and I will post about more to come.

This post is about how he asked me. So… here it is….

He came over to my house and gave me a long hug and a kiss, He sat me on my bed. He motioned for me to wait. He turns away from me and gets something out of a bag. I just sit on the edge of the bed waiting. He turns around with a handful of papers. He holds them in front of him, smiling at me. I read the first one, smile, and nod. He removes that one and I read the next one. This goes on for about 9 sheets of paper (two of which I posted) with the last one saying “do you agree to be my girlfriend?” I smiled and said “yes” with the biggest smile on my face. I am surprised I didn’t cry. He then gives me the flowers and some chocolate! He is absolutely the sweetest.

How he went about the whole things was the best because it showed me his respect, his “love”, and appreciation for me and our relationship. It was perfect. I would share all 10 sheets, yet I want to keep somethings personal. I want to keep some of this in my heart, just for me.

I have said this many times, do not settle for anything less than what you deserve. If you don’t know what you deserve, figure it out. Life is worth living, not settling!

IMG_4459IMG_4466IMG_4467

Respect… What does it look like?

I have been learning so much this month. I am going to post a few posts over the next few days explaining all the wonderful and crazy things I have been going through. This first post is about what I have learned about respect.

I have been seeing a guy for the past month. His name is Jonathan. (yes, it is the same name as my ex fiancé from the states). He is different than most guys I have dated. How he talks to me and explains things to me is sweet. The first few times we had a conversation about life I was thrown for a loop. I wasn’t used to someone talking to me in such a way. I was confused. I didn’t understand what that was. I didn’t recognize what he was doing. I couldn’t put a name to it.

The other day we were having another one of these conversations and he mentioned how he doesn’t like something about his culture. He said he didn’t like “machismo.” Machismo is not really something that happens just in his culture it happens everywhere even in the US. It just may have a different name. I understood what it was in my feelings I just didn’t have words for what it was. This led me to ask questions, like I always do when I don’t understand something. I had thoughts about what I thought it was I just didn’t quite know for sure.

I asked two men the same questions and I got two different responses. First, I asked a guy that I was seeing a few months back. I asked if he would explain something about the Spanish culture for me. I said “explain machismo.” His responses were normal responses for him when I ask him questions like this. He said “Machismo is not a Spanish culture. It is an attitude for thousands of years where the man is arrogant and believes much more than women. They demystify and leave the woman wrong before themselves. Then it is not a Spanish culture. Careful with that because machismo exists everywhere.” I understood this. I had more specific questions I wanted answered. I started asking questions like… Is it a sexual thing or is it deeper, a man telling a woman she needs to have kids, a man making all the decisions without the woman’s opinion or thoughts in regards to their life together? To these questions, he responded that it is not sexual and yes to the other two. I kept asking more questions… would telling a woman she is crazy and emotional every time she is hormonal and getting angry at her for it be considered that, do “machismo” men think emotions are not “good”? His response to those questions was “why all the questions? The best example I can give you is the opposite of me.” and “mmmm it seems strange to me. sure you’re experiencing this with the guy you’re with.” These response made my head spin even more? I felt as though these response were defensive and “machismo” in nature.

I really wanted to know what Jonathan’s responses would be. I had an idea of what he would say. I just wanted clarity. Jonathan was sleeping when I had all these thoughts, so I had to wait for him to wake up to ask. He woke up and I asked him the same questions I asked the other guy. Jonathan’s responses were the complete opposite. I knew they would be because he doesn’t respond to me like most men.

Jonathan’s response to what is machismo… “It’s very ugly. The man thinks he is superior to the woman. He does not cook or clean because he thinks it is the woman’s job.” Jonathan’s response to “would telling a woman she is crazy and emotional every time she is hormonal and getting angry at her for it be considered that, do “machismo” men think emotions are not “good”…. “Macho men think that emotions are corny and ridiculous. Macho men are not romantic because they think that being romantic is a woman’s thing.” He then goes on to say that macho men in Nicaragua do not say things like “mi princesa”.

I had asked Jonathan some questions I didn’t ask the other guy as well. I asked him if macho men are greedy and do not give attention and things freely? His response was that they love to receive things yet do not give things because love is a woman’s thing. We went on to talk about how machismo shows in his life. He tells me jealousy is the biggest thing that he struggles with. He doesn’t like being jealous and he is working on it.

I sent him some of the responses from the other guy and asked if he noticed a difference. He said the guys responses were a defensive response. He was defending himself from your questions. He looked at my questions with poison and gave an answer with poison.

This absolutely blew my mind! I realized all this came down to was respect. It really has nothing to do with being macho. It has to do respect for themselves as a man and for the woman in their life. Jonathan’s responses over the last month have made me question how men respond to me. I have a lot of emotions that change and fluctuate. Most men get bothered by this and in return their responses are defensive or unloving. I thought that this was normal and I accepted it even though I didn’t really like it. After experiencing Jonathan’s love, acceptance, and appreciation I realize that it’s about respect. Jonathan respects my emotions and my opinions as a woman.

It has only been a month. I do not know what will change as time goes on. I do, however, know what it is like for a man to truly respect you. This will forever be in my needs and wants for any man in my life. Do not settle for less than you deserve.  If you are unsure about something, do whatever you need to find the answer. You deserve the love and respect you give yourself. Find your own self-respect.