Ashley Hunt

WomanityNOW & the TERRIFIC (2)WOs!

Ashley Hunt
WomanityNOW & the TERRIFIC (2)WOs!

Time flies and it’s already 2017. Something about the beginning of a new year brings out the “fresh start” in us all. January is time where we get motivated, shift renewed energy back on our grind and map out new goals to achieve in the next 365 days. Reflecting on my previous year, if I could describe 2016 in one word it would be…terrible no, terrifying..better yet, terri..fic.

I know what you’re probably thinking – but hear me out. If you remember this time last year when Womanity was (1)NE, I talked about taking the 1st step. Thanks to the Womanity Winter Care Drive, our first service initiative, we were able to distribute over 250+ care packages filled with personal toiletries, non-perishable snacks & water bottles; along with winter coats, scarves, gloves and hats to homeless men, women and children throughout the City throughout the month of February and during CIAA weekend. I knew then & there that this was merely the beginning. I also started a #GratitudeJar to keep the momentum going. The concept is the same as daily devotionals or journaling (but the DIY color geek in me loved the idea of aesthetically seeing my vision build over time)!

Each day, on a slip of paper I wrote something down I was thankful for – no matter how big or small it might be – and dropped it in a mason jar. The only condition was that I needed to find some kind of good in all 366 days. Many of us in this country (& across the globe) are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted after the roller coaster of a year we had. I needed an intentional outlet to express my gratitude. Being thankful for what I had kept me focused on pursuing my passion, relentlessly. As I kept moving forward to find my stride, I realized that leaving the lucrative shade of the comfort zone was never going to be easy. This isn’t something you just “walk away from” – you have to jump. So that’s just what I did.

Personally & professionally, I took a gargantuan leap of faith and bet it all on WomanityNOW; resigning from my former full-time position…of course only after much confusion, doubt, tears, frustration and isolation subdued. On paper, I had an ideal situation. I was the youngest rep on my team, and I worked hard to establish myself as a likeable key player. I was earning a pretty stable salary and even an excellent benefits package. I was pre-approved for my first home loan at 25 years old and I was waist deep into the buyer’s process; engrossing myself in endless understanding credit and first-time home owning crash courses. Yet with all this #adulting going on, I wasn’t satisfied. I found myself becoming so accustomed to sprinting in the ‘rat race’, that I hadn’t realized how burnt out I was by the time I had touched the brim of a quarter-century of life. I wasn’t staying in my lane because I wasn’t sure which one was mine anymore. But early spring of 2016 proposed an ultimatum I wasn’t ready for. The company I was with made plans to relocate out of state, which meant the countdown was on to decide if I wanted to uproot everything I had been working towards to move with them, or stay in North Carolina with no clear backup plan and “figure it out”. Two weeks shy of the big move, I handed over my pink resignation letter and didn’t look back. Something about the Winter Care Drive opened my eyes to my purpose – loving and serving other people – and I now needed to access it in a more tangible way. I couldn’t have done it in the mind frame I was in at that time.

From then, the floodgates of full-fledged entrepreneurship flung open! I was now responsible for my next check…and the next one…aaaand the next! The safety net was officially snatched from under me and I had no clue how to move. But I couldn’t let fear continue to paralyze me. First things first, I needed to get away to renew my mind. So for my 26th birthday in April, I took my first cross country trip to the West Coast to see my Twinn™. That visit to California completely shifted my perspective for the better – I finally felt a freedom I had never experienced before…in life. For the first time, in a long time, I remembered what living looked like. I wasn’t masquerading my happiness for once, I was truly peaceful. {Not really something you’d expect from a woman who just quit her job, didn’t close on her dream house and never had a clue what she would do when she returned home.} I was not only blessed to see parts of the country that captured my heart, I had a chance to meet family for the first time, reconnect with old college friends and even go to a live taping at Universal Studios for one of my favorite shows! Most of the highlights from that visit were the moments where it was just me & my Maker, getting reacquainted with one another (talk about #MCM!).

After my vacation, I returned home to the Queen City to make my next moves. Aside from refreshing my Public Relations portfolio, I kept income afloat thanks to smartening up on my savings & budgeting by getting an AMAZING financial team behind me, working extra jobs like ride sharing and even homeschool teaching a 4 year old genius. (I’m sure any mother or educator can attest that although we are leading by example, you always learn something new about yourself and the world through children) *toots horn quickly* 

 

More importantly, I took time for myself – to ask what I wanted for my future & where my passions truly lie with this Womanity movement. I got back to networking more with local artists and fellow creatives – guest blogging at several events around town & creating opportunities to build future relationships/partnerships. As society started to take a toll and civil issues such as police brutality began to hit home with #CLTUprising the unfortunate murder of Keith Lamont Scott, I found opportunities to use my platform as a voice for the voiceless. Staying true to the humanity aspect, we decided to make this year’s service projects focused on helping Title I students succeed this school year. One lucky elementary class from South Greenville Elementary School in Greenville, NC not only received back-to-school book bags filled with classroom supplies at the beginning of the school year in August; but we also donated brand new books to the boys & girls for the holidays this December!

Photo Cred: Michael Bonner Photography

Photo Cred: Michael Bonner Photography

This was also the first year I finally hosted my first WomanityNOW event – Lipstick & Lingerie, which turned out to be an unforgettable girls night in experience! From L&L, I was able to establish a network with my sisters Asia N. Leathers and Najee ‘Queen Naj’ Brown of Jalice & Co. I’m excited about all the amazing events #QUEENSInTheCity is preparing for 2017! 

Looking back at this year, I realized two things remained constant (and ultimately strengthened) throughout this process: 1) my faith & trust in God began sprouting from the ‘mustard seed’ stage and I made room for Him to blossom beautifully in my life and 2) although the narrative may be ever-changing, I never stopped writing. Whether it be the gratitude jar, journaling, blogging, making/breaking to-do list, strategizing goals for myself or clients, planning & executing events – whatever. In this next year, I am expectant of even greater things to come – not only for myself, but for the lives I hope to help with WomanityNOW.

HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY, WOMANITYNOW

I LOVE YOU AND LOOK FORWARD TO ANOTHER YEAR OF US GROWING, EVOLVING AND BEING TOGETHER!

 ~ With Love,  Muva       

Photo Credit: Shabaka5 Photographer

Photo Credit: Shabaka5 Photographer

Share the birthday love with me using the hashtag #HappyBirthdayWomanity on our Instagram & Twitter @WomanityNOW or email submissions here.