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:

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.


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.

Thawing the Frozen Heart

After your heart is broken, what happens?  The natural reaction is to shut down, contract, and protect the remaining shards.  In fact, for many people, after experiencing the searing pain of loss, their hearts begin to freeze over.  Eternal winter.

Unfortunately, living with a frozen heart is only half living.  The truth is that life only becomes rich and meaningful when the heart is warm, open, and expansive.  But how do you thaw a frozen heart?

Try this exercise.  Place your hand over your heart and breathe deeply.  This simple gesture activates the parasympathetic nervous system (our calming mechanism) and also stimulates oxytocin (our bonding hormone).  Next, while still keeping your hand over your heart, imagine a scene in which you were happy and feeling full of love.  Notice how it feels in your body.  Summon, expand, and absorb the feeling of love within you.

Thawing the frozen heart doesn’t happen in a single instant.  It happens by degrees and with intention.  Let spring into your heart, bit by bit, so that beauty and love can begin to grow once again. 

How are You Taking Care of Yourself?

Recently, two people told me that they’re finally going to start taking care of themselves this year. They had let themselves get run down and run over after decades of thinking that self-care was selfish. I applauded their efforts to begin prioritizing themselves.

However, when I asked them about the changes they were going to make, I heard about plans for exercising, taking time off, getting massages, and getting more sleep. Now, while taking care of our bodies is undeniably important, taking care of our inner worlds, our mindset, is equally so.

Self-care, at its core, is as much about tenderness, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion as it is about action. Max Ehrmann wrote, “Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe.” Can you say that you are gentle with yourself, that you talk to yourself as a dear friend would? Do you cut yourself slack when you make a mistake? Can you recognize when you suffer and offer yourself a kind word?

I have a new book coming out this year called “Simple Self-Care for Therapists,” so self-care is very much on my mind. Of course, regardless of our work in the world, we all need to cultivate the soft center of self-love. So, by all means, pull out the stops on your healthcare. But don’t forget to tend to your inner world. It could make all the difference.