Ashley Davis Bush, LICSW

  •  Are you living with passion and purpose?
  • Have the strains of loss, stress, or conflict sapped the joy from your life?

Ashley Davis Bush can help you.   She offers articles, videos, books, and one-on-one counseling (via phone, Skype, or in-person) to help you experience a deeper, more satisfying life.

Ashley is a psychotherapist, Huffington Post blogger, a self-help author, and radio personality with over 25 years of professional experience. Ashley believes that each of life’s challenges offers us opportunities for personal and spiritual growth.  Ashley is passionate about providing simple, specific tools to help deepen and enrich your life, starting today.

Latest Blog Posts:

Making Friends with Death

I recently attended a retreat the sole purpose of which was to meditate upon death.  Gulp.  Most people don’t really want to be on a first name basis with the grim reaper, if you know what I mean.  And yet, fear of dying is an undercurrent for much of human unhappiness.  Making peace with the inevitable is to make peace with life.

Thirty of us sat in silence, with our eyes closed.  The leader chanted, “Your death is certain.”  She rapped repeatedly on a drum saying, “Your death is absolutely certain and unavoidable.”  Drum, drum, drum.  “And you have no idea when it will happen.”  Drum, drum, drum.  Then the drumming stopped and we sat, without a sound, meditating on this powerful and sobering message.

We don’t know when we will go. Many of us certainly have more time behind us than we do ahead.  Yet, when it comes our turn to pass, as it has come to all throughout time, how will we go?  Will we scream, cry, and wail?  Or will we leave with gratitude and love, crossing into the unknown without resistance?

Which way would you rather go?

Have you made friends with death?

Eat, Pray, Learn

I recently went on a personal adventure to Antigua, Guatemala.  It was my own miniature version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.  Well, she traveled for an entire year (to Italy, India, and Bali) and I only went away for two weeks, but hey – it was my solo adventure.

Eat – I threw out any attempt to be gluten free, meat free or sugar free and opened myself to whatever came.  Oh! I sampled frijoles for breakfast, café con leche, strawberry sauce on crepe-thin pancakes, and fresh, hot, homemade tortillas with almost every meal.  Heaven!

Pray – I happened to be in Antigua over Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent — a big event in a vibrantly Catholic country.  What I didn’t expect was that the city would be literally covered in ashes that day.  The Fire volcano had erupted for hours through the previous night (“oh, that’s what that sound was!”) and had blanketed the town in ash.  It was truly an ‘Ash’ Wednesday.

Learn – Unlike Ms. Gilbert, I went to improve my Spanish, not my love life.  And happily, thanks to 15 hours a week of private instruction and a full-fledged cultural immersion, I learned a lot of Spanish.  But in the end, it turns out that I learned about love as well.  For even though I adored 70 degree days, outdoor cafes, and flowering trees, I missed my husband.  Yes, love for my husband called me home in spite of  New England’s frigid weather.  The cliché is true:  home, indeed, is where the heart is.

Gratitude Glasses

It happened on the heels of a wonderful weekend away.  I had just spent four days and three nights on a spiritual retreat praying and meditating, contemplating the gifts of life.  I was aglow with gratitude.

And then, shortly after I arrived home, my beloved beagle, Copper, got into a scuffle with a skunk.  The pungent skunk smell permeated virtually every corner of my home – even the garage!  My feelings of gratitude and contentment dissipated.

I sat and thought about how I could course-correct my plummeting mood.  I was most certainly not grateful that my dog was sprayed by a skunk, but I also knew that in the midst of an overall wonderful life, I didn’t want small inconveniences to darken my perspective.  I intentionally began to redirect my thoughts with a focus on gratitude.  For example, I was grateful for the internet which provided a recipe for a skunk deodorizing bath.  And I was grateful that we had the ingredients for said bath.  I was also grateful that I personally hadn’t been sprayed. I was especially grateful that skunk smell does dissipate, eventually.

Now, a few days later, as I sit here surrounded by a faint unpleasant odor, I’m still not at all grateful that it happened.  But I am grateful for other aspects imbedded in the event.  I’m aware that while both realities are true for me, I do have control over what I focus on.  So, I reach for my virtual gratitude glasses and notice the wonder all around me come into focus.

A 17 Year Blink

She sat across from me, her eyes tearing up. “I am at the end of an era.  My youngest child just graduated from high school and my life will never be the same,”  she said.  This wasn’t an expression of sorrow from a client or even a friend.  She was a stranger at a charity dinner.  It was 1998.

I was on the other end of the child rearing spectrum.  At the time, my children were 5, 3, and 1.  My oldest was yet to start kindergarten.  My dinner companion smiled, “It will go quickly; time will fly,” she said.  I remember being unable to imagine it.  I was in the trenches with peanut butter sandwiches, diapers, play groups, sippy cups, and preschool snacks.  My days were fulfilling but exhausting and endless – how could it possibly go fast?

Now, 17 years later, I am the older woman at the table, reflecting on the end of my parenting era.  My youngest child has just graduated from high school.  A stepdaughter has also graduated from high school.  Did it go quickly?  Yes and no.  The years were filled with many changes and events . . . a whole lot of living occurred.  And yet, yes, there is a sense of having blinked and then it was over.

As with all endings, there is sadness, a poignant wistfulness.  But there is also a sense of hopefulness.  Even as a door closes on my child rearing years a window opens elsewhere.  I have yet to look out of that window but I know that I inevitably will.  Meanwhile, today there is a woman with a baby somewhere, about to blink her eyes and flash forward 17 years, wondering where the time went.

Ashley

www.ashleydavisbush.com

Are You Selfish?

Recently I was at an exercise class (yes, it is a miracle that I’ve stuck with it for 6 months now!).  A woman came running in at the last minute and said, “I just had my babysitter stay later so that I could come to this class.  Does that make me a bad mom?”

Why is it that women, and men, often feel guilty for taking time to exercise, to go out with friends, to have a date with their partner, to — in short — take care of themselves?  So often we (or the people around us) see such self-care behaviors as selfish.

The truth is that when we nourish and nurture ourselves everyone benefits.  When your well runs dry, everyone you care for and support suffers. When you take the time to fill yourself with physical health, spirit, joy, playfulness, and love, your well overflows.  Then, there is much to share.

As my friend and I embarked on our afternoon fitness class, I said, “I think you’re the best mom ever.”  We both smiled.