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Calling in Joy


Every year I choose a word to focus on. It is such a simple practice that sets the tone for my intentions and acts as a guidepost as the months unfold. Last year my word was EASE and while that seems hilarious to me today because 2015 was one of the toughest years of my life, that powerful four letter word shaped all of my experiences in such a transformative way.

Choosing the word EASE on January 1, 2015 served as a prayer to be able to flow through whatever came up, to be gentle on myself during the process and to open my heart to the notion that it is possible to expand even when all of the shit hits the fan. EASE reminded me on a minute by minute basis that I had the tools within to move through my most core shaking fears of not being enough and being an unlovable sad cat lady who lives alone in a tiny house.

And let’s be real for a minute, I love my tiny house and my cat with my entire heart.

The day Jason left our home I sobbed on the couch for hours and hours. Instead of questioning my sadness or trying to change it, I gave myself permission to feel every pang of heartache. I cried and cried and let out so many screams I was worried my neighbors would think something bad was happening to me. I needed to feel. I needed to yell. I had to move the energy and allow myself to grieve.

How often do you give yourself permission to just be exactly as you are in each moment?

This is something I’ve been reflecting on a great deal post breakup. In the past I tried to rush through the feeling part of loss. It took me much longer to heal and process because I wouldn’t let myself just go right into the darkest place and embody it for as long as I needed to. Spending some days on the couch crying was better than therapy. I embraced my most tender, vulnerable self and I know deep down it made me a much stronger and wiser person.

We must be willing to be who we are and not try and minimize our pain (or happiness!). The only way out is through and there is nothing like a conscious, heart opening, loving breakup to reveal what you’re made of. I’m proud of myself for showing up in the way that I did. It’s a big deal to let go with compassion and sweetness and hold space for the ugly cries and the sinking feelings too. More and more this is becoming the space I choose to dwell, a sacred place that makes room for all feelings and doesn’t try to avoid, change, or medicate any of them.

When I set my intention to focus on EASE last year my hope was that I would slow down, take in the fullness of my life, and be able to enjoy myself more. The cosmos clearly had other plans for me but I chose, each time I remembered, to carry the spirit of EASE into each challenging moment. Through the ups and downs of the year and all of the initiations along the way, I feel at peace knowing I ended the year with as much EASE as possible. That word was such a huge teacher for me and I am still learning volumes about creating calm, relaxing when I need to and being content no matter what is happening around me.

Calling In Joy by Ashley Neese

This year I am choosing to call in JOY. I know, I’m raising the bar like super super hight, but I am ready. I learned on a soul level last year that I am a true alchemist and am a living example of redemption. I have healed lifetimes of dysfunction, grief, and repression and am continuing to shift my paradigm and raise my vibration in ways that I am beyond excited to step into this year.

Up until last year I wasn’t ready to handle the caliber of JOY. I still had some major clearing to do in order to begin this next evolution. On January 1 I took a stand (walked on fire, more on that next week I promise) and claimed this word as my new teacher. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store and all of the incredible ways I will be able to infuse JOY into my life and the lives of the people around me.

I am letting go of the darkness from my past. I am not ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist. I am choosing a higher path for myself. It’s time. I’m over punishing myself for things that were out of my control and all of the terrible, tragic events that happened when I was a young teenager drowning in addiction. I have much more to offer this world and I am here to let that be known in a bigger way.

In order to call in JOY this year on a deep heart level I had to go through everything I have been through in my life. I had to break open, to gut myself in all possible ways in order to finally see I am worth it, I am lovable, and I have a powerful message to share. I am grateful for my past and to be honest wouldn’t change any of it. Our experiences, our parents, they make us who we are. How can we shy away from those teachings? I want to enjoy my life on a new level. Don’t you? It’s time.

Looking out the window of my tiny house to a sunset of peach and gold my heart is full of love. It has no boundaries or limits. There is more than enough to receive and share. When I look to JOY as my teacher for this year my entire body softens into the belief that there is so much contentment and hope to be found in every moment. JOY doesn’t depend on outside circumstances or events rather is found within each of our hearts if we are willing to do the work and truly listen.

All my heart,



Images by Lani Trock


  • <3
    I love this thing of choose a word for the year. I think my word for 2016 is growth. As women, as partner and as person. Thanks for your thoughts…

    • ashley

      Hi Valentina,
      It’s such a powerful practice and helps to direct our actions, energy and thoughts. GROWTH is a fantastic choice and I love that you’re calling it in for every area for you life. Excited to see where this takes you in 2016. Lots of love. xoa

  • Jenni

    Thank you for sharing this! Quite similar thoughts and feelings here…

    “There is more than enough to receive and share” – this is what I try to remeber every day this year.

    • ashley

      Hello Jenni!
      It is great to hear from you. I am so glad it resonated with you and that we’re in this together. There is more than enough on every level! Sending light and love to you. xoa

  • …willing to do the work. Yess! I am in. Even though some letting-go things aren’t finished in my life yet, I already have much more room for joy. Feels so good. All the best to you! :-)

    • ashley

      Hello dear one! The letting go takes time and I am glad you can feel the room for joy! So grateful for you! Wishing you a brave and bright new year. xoa

  • Kamaile Frank

    I’ve recently released a relationship and i whole heartedly agree with feeling all the feelings as they come. Up until now I would pray to rush past the grief and it only showed up later. I enjoyed reading your thoughts! JOY is a wonderful thing to focus on. The word I will focus on this year is IMAGINE.

    • ashley

      Hello Kamaile,
      It is wonderful to hear from you. We’re in the same place of releasing and moving on. I am grateful to connect around this. I love that word IMAGINE, what a powerful calling for this new year! I look forward to learning how things unfold. Sending light and love to you. xoa

  • Hi Ashley
    My name is Sif Orellana. I’m a Danish mother, publisher, cookbook writer, photographer and yoga instructor, and I have just found your blog. Thank you so much for creating this beautiful little nook in cyberspace.. Your words are so incredibly wise, beautiful and inspiring! I’m so overwhelmed by your honesty, your authenticity and take on life.. I have for years now, around New Years Eve, defined 5 core values as my leading stars for the upcoming year, and these 5 values and words have been of so great importance to me and brought me so much direction, focus and encouragement, when going through both tough times and beautiful moments. My 2015 was tough too. It is weird, but I notice that so many of my friends and colleagues have experienced the same. It is as if, It is as if the universe has initiated some major global development processes for us humans, and we just have to do our best to navigate through :)

    Do you know the book ‘Passionate Presence’ by Catherine Ingram. I’m reading it right now, and I think it might inspire you too. Just wanted to say hi and thanks! This post was so personal and beautiful, and I know from own experience, that sometimes when you have spent time on writing quite a personal post and you upload it, you don’t really know if it makes a difference to anyone and if it is read with inspiration. Your post did and was. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    Wish you the most wonderful Tuesday and a JOYful year, just as you wish for and quite clearly deserves in every way.

    • ashley

      Hello dear Sif!
      It is so wonderful to hear from you. I really appreciate your kind words and loving energy. Your presence is felt and appreciated dear sister! Your practice of 5 core values is very beautiful. I love that you have such a connection to it and are very engaged with the process.

      Thank you for the recommendation, I will look that up. Again, thank you for your encouragement and thoughtful words, they are coming through at the perfect time today. Exactly what I needed to read.

      Sending you light, love, and a giant hug from Los Angeles. All my heart. xo

  • […] remember reading a post from Ashley Neese where she was explaining how transformative it had been for her to choose a word to focus on. […]

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