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:

Practicing Self Compassion

Having had the honor of listening to clients for over 28 years, I know that it’s very easy for people to fall into patterns of self-judgement, self-criticism, and even self-harm.  In fact, depression, anxiety, and relationship conflict are often exacerbated by self- judgment:  “What’s wrong with me?”  “Why am I such an idiot?”  “I’m a loser.”

In my own life, a pattern of self-criticism has arisen around my need for sleep. I need an extraordinary amount of sleep – always have.  And if I don’t get my requisite nine hours, I cannot function well.

Recently, I was in a community theater production of “Oliver”.  After three months of rehearsals and performances I needed sleep, sleep and extra sleep.  I found myself conserving energy by saying no to friends for lunch, skipping family functions, and avoiding evening engagements.  Suddenly, the old nagging voice was heard:  “Why do you need so much sleep?  What’s wrong with you?”

I knew it was time for self-compassion. When I first became aware of the critical voice, I reminded myself that everyone’s body is different.  I sympathized with myself that it’s challenging (and humbling) to feel one’s physical limitations.  And then I was able to be grateful for all that my body is capable of.  With this foundation of self-compassion, I was able to better care for myself:  trust my body, get to bed early, and be grateful for sleep.

Self compassion is your best self-care.

www.ashleydavisbush.com

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