Ashley B Cleveland: Definition (About Me in 575 words, aka my first Spring 2015 assignment)

Every semester on the first day of class, something very predictable occurs.  The dreaded “tell me about yourself” conversation where you need to think of something off the top of your head that’s unique and defines who you are as a person.  No pressure.

I hope that by now you know my blogs are open and honest.  My biggest struggle with assignments such as this is how to write anything completely about M.E. First, that’s boring.  Second, who actually cares!?  So, what I would love from you as a reader is any feedback you have.  If you’re a friend or family, do I adequately describe myself or do you feel like I’m missing a major part of my heart (or something you see as a fundamental part of who I am)?  As a reader, what do you care about in “about me” sections?  What do you want to know about a blogger?  Please feel free to give any and all feedback, even anonymously.  **Disclaimer* My professor wanted us to include pets as she feels it unites all cultures.**

Ashley B Cleveland

I grew up on mountains, in canyons, and maneuvering white-water in kayaks. I was raised to never accept “good” and to never allow stagnancy. Mountains don’t care about excuses or speed; you either get to the top or you don’t. Rivers don’t care about fear and canyons don’t care about theories — both mandate action and resiliency. I contribute a lot of who I am today to those experiences.

I have a dog and a cat that I adopted from a shelter in Kansas City. The cat, Timber, is a little black kitten that’s only eight months old so I call him Kitty Bitty (or Timber, Colorado for Denver, CO). My dog is named Aiko, which means little beloved; she’s about seven years old and I promise she’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever met. She’s also bilingual and loves to give hugs and kisses if you ask her politely “Aiko me puedes dar un beso?!” She thinks she’s the kitten’s mom — she’ll drag him around by his scruff, they play rough together, they snuggle together — and he thinks he’s a dog. Timber goes for walks, picks on little dogs, comes running to you when you get home, is trained to “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “get out”, and refuses to drink out of anything except the dog bowl.

I’ve lived in the Kansas City metro area for almost five years, and I grew up in Wichita, Kansas. I’m a full-time student and work every day that I don’t have class. I am in love with learning — every person, situation, challenge or obstacle is an opportunity to learn, strengthen relationships, and grow. I also love red wine, IPA’s, and tequila. Chocolate and cheese (not together) are two of my biggest weaknesses. I look forward to meeting new people and appreciate diversity in opinions and cultures; you never know if the next person you meet is going to be your next dearest friend. Fitness is also important to me — I’m fascinated by neuroscience so one of my biggest exercise motivators is keeping my mind and body healthy and running smoothly. There are few other types of rewards that provide equal benefits or are as uplifting as the mental clarity after a challenging workout.

One of my favorite quotes is by Wayne Dyer: “Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” It is a wise reminder that we are the only species (that we know of) that can think thoughts about our own thoughts. We are in control of our emotions, reactions, how our day is going — not the people or external events around us. It might sound slightly harsh at first, but it’s a very provoking idea to accept “If I’m having a horrible day, I accept responsibility.” I could write another five hundred words just on this concept! I’ll save that for another day 😉

TED.com has had a huge impact in my life. The short videos can be life-changing or at least eye-opening, and I loved volunteering for the organization last year. Additionally, I’m in love with social entrepreneurship and am constantly looking for opportunities to partner existing businesses with a nonprofit or support the ones that already are. I do believe it’s absolutely possible to make money and do good for the community (or world!) simultaneously. In fact, I believe the more money a responsible business can make, the more good they can do.

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