Ok, after a lot of thought and nail biting, there is another book in the works.
After writing and publishing the first book, Life Before The Lottery: Living Beyond the Bucket, I was asked to pen another book. I truly believe that there is life before the lottery–that we don’t have to hold the winning ticket to live the life we’ve always wanted. We also don’t have to wait to fulfill our “bucket list” dreams, that it’s never too late (and never too soon) to pursue those dreams and desires that can get buried in the everyday muck.
I have a romance bucket list too. Can you say “series”? (Insert nervous giggle here.) Welcome to the first peek at Life Before Happily Ever After.
First and foremost let’s get it out there. I am a very private person when it comes to dating and my personal life. I’ve never been one of those girls to flaunt her dating world, her boyfriends, or her romance encounters. My friends and family only wish I would dish a bit more on my love life adventures. So why now?
If love is what makes the world go round, then funny dating stories—the good, the bad, and the downright awkward moments are what fuels giggle worthy girls nights and gives us the courage to go out there and engage in life again. I’ve been told I’ve got some gossip-worthy tales, and for those that need a little laugh or bit of encouragement, enjoy.
A lot of us never show up in our own lives. I believe the goofs get us to the good parts and that we are to enjoy the bad dates on the way to the good ones. Enjoy the boring days on the way to the good ones.
Going back to the original theme and message of the first book (which is ultimately connected to the next one) — what would you do if you had no financial restrictions and nothing holding you back? Not holding a winning ticket is not what’s holding you back. I should know, this girl proved it. Purposefully choosing to get off the couch and out of my own pity party, I crossed off 29 of the 30 items on my 30×30 list… all before turning 30 years old! It took a bad day in a coffee shop and a list on a napkin to realize that life is a gift and that someday is today. That experience was really just the beginning of the blessings and curious adventures in my world. It was so much more than a bucket list!
How many people are truly happy in their everyday lives? Not just during the big moments, but in the everyday bits. We always think we’ll be happy when. When we lose the weight. When we get more money. When we get a different job. When we get that promotion. When we get married. When the man we marry stops telling us what to do. When we have kids. When the kids grow up and move out. When we get a bigger house. When we get a housekeeper to help clean the bigger house. When we get a housekeeper that doesn’t irritate us while cleaning the bigger house. When. When. When.
No. No. No.
If you can’t enjoy life right now, you’re never going to enjoy it when. It’s about our attitude and how we act when God is not moving as fast as we want Him to. It’s how we act before we get what we want and what we do in the meantime. Because we will always want something. And that’s ok. If we’re not reaching for something, we stall, fall in a rut, and become stagnate. Ruts are just never ending graves, dirt walls on both sides. We are wired for forward motion, to be reaching, wanting, desiring something. But if we can’t be happy and enjoy being in the now, in the life before XYZ, we will never be happy in the when.
I have a romance bucket list too. I also believe there is life before happily ever after. Life does not start when we find that special someone. We may be waiting to meet Miss or Mr. Wonderful, but we do not need to wait to engage in and experience life. Are we doing the things now in our “before” that make us the kind of person the person we want to be with will want? Are you the kind of person who you’re looking for is looking for…right now? When it comes to love—when it comes to life–someday is today. Today is the only sure thing we know we have and the decisions made today dictate our happily ever afters, whether it includes a special someone or not.
The experiences we create today and the choices we make right now go into making us the person someone else may or may not want to be with tomorrow. Despite our past, there is a future. There is a whole world of adventure and fulfillment out there that does not necessarily need a ring on a certain finger to find it. Nor does it end once there is one. Relationship status does not define us. It is an addition and something to enjoy once found. Learning to enjoy every single thing in the before, in the mundane, in the “right now” is more important than the actual getting what we want. We think we’ll be happy when, when really we need to learn to enjoy where we’re at on the way to where we’re going.
Enjoy the bad dates on the way to the good ones. Enjoy the boring days on the way to the good ones.
This is not a memoir and definitely not a “tell all” by any means. If the tales told can in any way be an example that there is life before happily ever after and to keep hope in our hearts, then by all means, read on. When it comes to romance in real life, toss the fears aside, leave your heart open and engaged, and keep on keeping on. Be discerning and discriminating, and do not be afraid to step out and get some good stories—or at the very least entertain those that need a chuckle. More than anything, do not settle, do not shut down, and be a person worth being with.
Little disclaimer, all the stories in this next book are 100% true (except of course for the ones that aren’t.)
With all due respect to the men in my life, the names will be changed to protect both the charming and the not-so-charming. Dating is not easy no matter which side of the gender equation you’re on. I am not out to bash anyone who has been less-than-charming or share private couple-only moments, but I will share some of the experiences that have made me chuckle, swoon, raise an eyebrow, and at times scratch my head.
So what’s in this next book?
My life and the road I have been asked to walk in my journey is not safe, it is not normal, and those who choose to stand close run the risk of getting hit with the shrapnel thrown my way. Nothing about my story is “normal.” I have come to terms with that little fact. A part of me yearns for a normal story (whatever that means), yet another part of me would be disappointed if it were. Jokingly, but not, I find myself having to warn new people in my life that if they hang around me long enough, they’ll at the very least get some weird and unusual stories.
A-w-k-w-a-r-d. This seems to be an ongoing theme in my life.
Picture some of these lovely moments.
- The kind of awkward where I was taken into a jewelry store on date #3 and told to pick out anything I wanted.
- Or the first date that ended in an emergency room.
- Or the first date where he unexpectedly brought his daughter.
- Or arriving on the first date to be seated at a table that’s right next to what turned out to be an old college buddy of his. After some awkward introductions, he and his girlfriend were now sitting inches from our table and could hear every word spoken.
- Or having him crash and total the rental car the first time we went to meet my parents. I had to call my dad to drive 45 minutes to come pick us up out of the ditch.
- Or the first date that took me to see the movie Taken… a movie about the sex slave trade and underage girls. Not exactly first choice in creating romance.
- Or the date that didn’t believe in tipping servers. Ever.
- Or being asked out via text for the first time.
- Or arriving at a brewery for a first date only to find out that he’s an avid non-drinker… he chose the location.
- Or the first date where despite all the wonderful restaurants in the area, he chose to begin the date at a run-down Olive Garden… and paid with coupons.
- Or the first date at Disneyland that yelled at me… the happiest place on earth.
And what about all the times where I’m the bad date? Hmmmmm.
And on that note, I believe this next year is going to have some pretty funny adventures and holds some exciting tales. Happy New Year.
Ashlee Bratton is a professional photographer, freelance writer, and entertaining speaker with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in business administration.
Along with completing 29 of the 30 things on her 30×30 list, her writing contributions include numerous publications such as Vail’s EAT magazine, creating a 56 page Visitor Guide for a mountain ski town, blogging and guest blogging, being featured in multiple newspapers and e-zines, and various other projects.
Currently, she keeps her camera in hand in Southern Colorado, is a complete and total foodie, and takes plane rides for fun. She likes things that go.