The Courage to Become | Ashely Solberg from She Is Blank Space
Dearest beauties, my name is Ashley Solberg, and I’m the founder of She Is Blank Space. Myself and fifteen other ladies joined together to start a blog where we share about life, fashion, beauty and the things we love as moms. We believe there is strength in our stories as I learned strength in mine the hard way. Silently hiding behind my pain, I got nowhere, but once I spoke of what I had come through, I realized how much we need courage in ourselves to encourage others.
One day, I woke up.
No, not by the beeping of my alarm clock or my kids poking me in the side before sunrise, but I WOKE up.
My innermost being was so lost, confused, and just flat out blah.
I absolutely could not answer the question of who I was anymore. Sad, right? Yeah, I thought so too. This started a long downward before an upward one. It was a lot of questioning and addressing things I was holding onto before I could start moving forward. I dug in deep, cried a lot of tears from past hurts, anger, and whatever else I needed to face. This was hard for me, a person that seemingly had it all together, to admit defeat and that I was failing at “life.”
In general, nothing about life was bad. I had a wonderful husband, three beautiful children, a great paying salary job and by God’s grace, we’ve always had everything we needed. Something was missing though. That spark--I lacked passion and zeal. I allowed my light to be dimmed.
My bright light, little by little, diminished. The fight of infertility testing, waiting, hoping, with nothingness—dimmed. After finally achieving a long-awaited pregnancy, we found out we were having twins—my light started to come back. Five months into the pregnancy, one of our perfect, sweet girls had a portion of her amniotic sac break away and entangle her foot and cord. The day before fetal surgery, it caused her to go on from this life far too soon. I could not grieve, I had to carry her, I had to be strong for our baby still with us. I carried joy and sorrow for so long I didn’t know how to feel just one—light extinguished.
We named our daughter that was with us, Ella Joy, which means a bright light of joy. Every day I clung to her so tightly amidst my tears of thankfulness and sadness. For hours, I would just watch her breathe. Becoming a mother was everything I could have hoped for, I truly loved her with every fiber and then some. Every milestone first I was truly happy at watching her grow, but I also felt like someone was missing.
At my worst point, I guarded myself by avoiding going anywhere completely and when I did, fleeing as soon as I could to avoid a breakdown when someone asked the “are you ok?” question. I guess I knew if I allowed myself to truly process, it would hurt too bad, so I just kept going, delaying my grief even longer. The saddest part of all of it, is I knew better. I realized that battle would always be and I had a decision to make of how much I wanted to fight it.
When my daughter was 18 months old, I felt like I was ready to walk through the infertility treatments again towards another little one. Things happened much faster this time as we knew what treatment course worked. We were pregnant, and not just pregnant, but doubly pregnant. Yes, you heard that right…twins, twice. We were over the moon, but also fearful. This whole mix of emotions seemed to be a thing for us and I grew tired of it. A few months pregnant, I decided enough was enough and I was just going to be happy where we were at minus the fear part. I enjoyed every bit of the pregnancy and my little toddler sidekick by my side. The twins were born at 33 weeks, but being a NICU nurse at the time (funny how life’s seasons prepare you for what you need), I was comforted by my co-workers as I stayed by their side and stuffed them full of milk for nine days prior to going home.
Then, well…life. Along with experiencing the loss of our Emmy before, becoming an exhausted new mom again (I seriously don’t remember the babies first six months with that kind of tired), but mostly going through the motions and convincing myself I was ok where I was just trying to stay afloat.
Things were different last year when all this She Is Blank Space business started, and although I remembered those feelings, I needed to discover what God wanted for me right now instead of clinging to my past and those coulda-woulda-shoulda thoughts. I had a new perspective and needed to filter through what that all meant.
After the air finally cleared for me, it seemed like everyone I knew was fighting against things in their health, marriages, kids-- anything and everything.
And then it happened, this pivotal moment that caused everything to collide. I remembered. I remembered what it felt like to be a part of something bigger than me, I remembered the things I dreamed about as a teen that I wondered how they would happen, I remembered what it should mean to be a great friend.
Out of the normal for this fairly quiet individual, I posted a random video of encouragement for others as I was also speaking to myself. Out of my own path I was still walking, this door opened my heart for others again. Even as I pleaded for someone else to be picked, because surely, I was in no position to do this, I could not escape my butterflies. It became evident I just needed to jump into something REALLY out of my comfort zone. As someone with a supportive family and amazing circle, I knew that we were very blessed and not everyone had this. What better place to offer this to others than on a website that could reach far beyond what I could physically.
So, what to call this new venture? I was drawing a blank (see where I’m going?). How do I categorize this when I want it to reach all women in different phases of life? It was impossible to put a label on it, and one morning while changing one of the twins’ diaper, it came to me…”She Is Blank Space.” No, not the void kind of blank space, but the blank space gets filled in with something. She is…confident, a college gal, rocking at mommy’ing, learning to be whole...you get the idea. This name allows us to talk about things in the present, but also towards the future and what we are striving after as we walk the oh so many shoes we fill as women.
I knew I couldn’t do this alone as we all have a story to tell and I asked around fifteen other women to join alongside me. Some of us are married, mothers, others in college still finding out what we want in life, some love to exercise, some love fashion and so on. Can I just point out how amazing they all are? We are always better together as women supporting each other.
While you could give me all the fun parts of what we share like food and DIY all day, my hope for She Is Blank Space is for each woman to find community and encouragement from other women who have been there or are there. Although I wanted this to happen right away, we had to build our foundation and I also had to transition out of my full time job to devote the time needed. I knew it would happen, but in the meantime, remained faithful to my job as a nurse, staying up super late to prep things for the next day for posts and social media so I could use my break time to get them published. We started to bring in a steady stream of income between working with other companies and our shop, but it wasn’t quite lining up to my salary. Keep in mind, I was completely clueless about web and graphic design, traffic flow, utilizing social media for things other than posting pictures of my kids!
Around the nine month mark since our launch, it became clear we weren’t going to grow any farther until I had more time to give. With three kids five and under, being a wife, full time nurse and being involved in ministry, the only thing that could change was my job. So, I handed in my two weeks notice, which they were not happy about losing me, but understood. That leap was hard y’all; I knew the hubby and I could survive on Ramen noodles if we had to, but our kids could not. However, I had such peace knowing that this dream would not have given me without a way being made.
And boy did that happen. Money came in from a random account I had with my old job equivalent to a month's pay, one of my husband’s pay checks that never got deposited was discovered, our mortgage went down and so on. I remained baffled by this whole process, but it’s amazing to see seeds that have been planted over the course of my life blooming into something I never would have imagined for myself.
So here we are, right in the middle of this amazing venture, and it’s time. It’s time to dig in a little deeper, truly bringing realness, vulnerability, love. In a world full of perfect social media pictures, we are going to those places that are hard, but necessary for growth. As a person with a love of gardening, it’s easiest to explain it this way: before new blooms can be achieved on a tree or plant, you must trim back the branches. It seems like it doesn’t make any sense to “hurt” the plant, but it triggers it to say, “hey, I’ve got work to do, I’m stagnant, I’ve stopped growing, I’ve wilted, I need to wake up, I need to grow again.”
So how about we bloom together as we find our courage to become, ok? Life is far too short to be walked out without purpose or in dry, empty places. For you, your friends, your family-let’s jump into our dreams together and allow ourselves to be willing to hear and act upon the tugs of our hearts.