You know what I hate about motivational advice?

Well, my brain, to be specif.

It’s a tragedy, really – how my brain will take some good, clear, totally applicable advice and be mind-masturbated into total numbness by it (just ‘cause it’s a “cliché) instead of letting the message sink in, resonate, and do its magic on me. To be fair, not all motivational advice is effective – or at the very least, some of it could be worded a helluva lot better. For example, take the old phrase, “Remove ‘can’t’ from your vocabulary”. It’s a well-intentioned little command, isn’t it? The idea that there’s nothing you can’t do seems pretty hopeful and positive, right? Then why do I hate it? Maybe it’s because I imagine a scowling high school coach saying it through a mouth just barely opening out of its pursed position to sling this order at me. And maybe it’s also because of the irony. I mean, here you’re admonishing against a negative mindset; but at the same time, you’re telling me to do it by employing a negative – seeing as “removing” is an act of using a negative to remove the “can’t”). This would be all well and good if when I took away “can’t” (unfortunately, a really well ingrained part of my belief system), there was some good, glowing, uteral, warm net below to catch and comfort me. Unfortunately, though, most people with bad “can’t” attitudes were born and raised on that – usually outta parental fear (“You can’t do gymnastics! You’ll fall and end up like Christopher Reeves!”)

(Old footage of my mom telling me her favorite bedtime story.)

And the thing about those kinda words which lead to “limiting belief systems”, is that both the terms and the belief systems are based on thought-habits. We’re totally capable of having shitty beliefs without actually using words (by focusing on stuff that’s not helpful), but the thing about words is that when we say ‘em out loud, it’s like we’re reinforcing it to ourselves. One great example is my god-awful can’t-do attitude about physical stuff. Take “the splits” for example. For three decades of my life, I’ve said “I can’t” (before, ya know, it was a meme – wait, does that make me a hipster?) when it comes to the splits. My friends would do it, I’d try, and then I’d reach a certain point where it’d hurt or I’d feel afraid I was gonna rip something, so I’d tense up and make and honest woman of the shitty anti-cheerleader living inside my head. Recently though, I’ve been getting into that whole eastern stuff that helps you link back up your body with your brain that’s trying desperately to escape it (mind/body connection, they call it). And much like the motivational stuff you hear and initially eye roll over, this “airy fairy” shiz is next-level no-joke either. Not if you do it right. Trying to describe how you harness this, like, magical inner energy is something my limited vocabulary will fail at every time I attempt it (I’ll leave you to look up chi or kundalini or whatever yourselves – it’s all basically the same with different words); but it works if you work it. And it’s so worth it.

“But I don’t believe in that shit, Ashley…”

Mmmkay. That’s cool, too.

I mean, it’s hard as shit – don’t get me wrong. There’s zero room for bad thought – or any thought really; but imagine a part of your body that either hurts or won’t move a certain way. Now, imagine being able to do something on your own – with no doctors or pills or wasted money – that can impart pain relief, warmth, resilience through potential future injury, stretching in seemingly impossible directions… why the effing eff aren’t they teaching this Mindblow101 in schools?! This doesn’t belong closed off in religion. It belongs in classrooms. This is, like, one of those universal truth things that’s not reserved for Krishna or Buddha lovers. That’s just the folk who came across it before people like me. But, the first time you try it and it works for you, you realize – this is an intrinsic thing meant for everyone.

Espesh in this culture of fat asses and arthritic knees before age 50.

And after yesterday, I know for damned sure that it works if you try. Because after a lifetime of not being able to get my legs past a squashed triangle with the floor (I recall failingly attempting splits with my limber, beautiful childhood friend I was horribly jealous of), yesterday after a bit o’ practicing the aforementioned stuff, both the words I was using, belief system, and physical capabilities changed, altered, transformed – Cinderella style – somehow. And I suddenly realized something: it’s not about removing “can’t” from your vocabulary. Can’t is a habit. A thought habit. And if you wanna end any habit, you have to be ready to replace it with something. So, I won’t erase can’t. I’ll replace can’t. Replace it with what I can do. What can I do? Can I stretch? Can I ease slowly into new stretches using these uh-mazing new tools I’ve just discovered from yonder ‘cross the world? Yes?

Well, like, aren’t “splits” just a stretch?


Carpetless, meet carpet:

May not look like much, but keep in mind the top one isn’t even my true “before”.

This was after trying it once already that day. My “before” would look more like a man walking around with jock itch after a very, very long ride on a horse. It’s funny. Language can be a beautiful tool when we don’t use it against ourselves. You’d think, as a writer, I’d have learned that a bit earlier during my journey toward the boneyard, yes?

Then again, you’d also think I wouldn’t start sentences with “and” or end ‘em in prepositions.

Sure, English can be fun.

If you’re not using emotionally carcinogenic language.

(Anyone here feel spiritually crippled by my intentionally relaxed and colloquial English tweakings?)