Mary Jane - for my mom on her birthday

When I was in the sixth grade, Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill album was everything to me. It was one of the first cd's I owned, I knew all the words to all the songs and sang along with them (much to the dismay of my mom at times - she politely explained that it wasn't a great idea for me to belt out all of the words to You Oughta Know...) It was an iconic album for all of the girls in my class, and we bonded over creating new lyrics to Ironic to share some of our elementary school problems.

I grew up listening to a lot of music in our household. My parents introduced me to Motown, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Madonna, Bob Marley, Sheryl Crow and more. Alanis made her way into the rotation, and I was proud to share the same musical tastes as my mom.

There was one song on the album that we disagreed about: track nine - Mary Jane. At that time it was probably my least favourite and I would skip over it whenever we were listening to the cd. If my mom was around, she would ask me to go back and play the song. I didn't understand why she liked it so much, and hadn't yet come to the realization that perhaps it was the song on the album that she most related to. I would oblige and let the song play out.

The year that album became a favourite in our house was a tough one for our family. We were living two hours away from Toronto, almost all of our friends and family were back home, my dad was commuting back and forth for work, and my mom was especially unhappy. It was really hard on all of us, and I know an especially bad year for my mom's depression. We lost her less than two years later.

After my mom's death, Mary Jane had new meaning.

It's a long way down
On this roller coaster
The last chance streetcar
Went off the track
And you're on it...

What's the matter Mary Jane?
Tell me...

Spending time reading her journal and examining the time leading up to her death gave me new insight into how she may have been feeling, and why this song resonated with her so deeply.

This will be the 20th time I've watched her birthday pass on the calendar since her death.
In February it will be 20 years since she's been gone.
I still wish we were celebrating her birthday together. 

I've sang Mary Jane many times since my mom died - on my own, in the shower, in rehearsal and in shows. It holds a special place in my heart, because I know it was a song my mom really enjoyed. I wish she too could have watched me sing it onstage. While the rest of Jagged Little Pill holds a lot of nostalgia for me, Mary Jane is on another level. 

I never skip track 9 anymore.

Happy birthday mom xo


Ashley Gibson Piano: Tara Litvack Guitar: Brandon Wall

Recorded at the 120 Diner by Chris James. Special thanks to Jeni Walls

Weekly Adventures 10.20.17

I'm back! And managing jet lag and the post-vacation blues.

leaving Hong Kong

My flight home was pretty normal, except for the fact that I experienced my first typhoon. It was a level 8 typhoon and Hong Kong was hit with some pretty intense wind and rain, but the city seemed mostly unfazed by it. Our flight boarded on time and left the tarmac about 40 minutes later than we were scheduled. I made it home in under 15 hours while managing to sleep a bit and plough through season one of The Good Wife. 

This weekend I'll be working on a full post (or two) with the full details of my Hong Kong trip. As I mentioned before, I loved being there and just soaked up everything there was to offer. My last few days were a lot of fun and it's been quite a shock to my system to head back to work and wear layers because autumn has certainly arrived here in Toronto.

Hello 123 lettuce wrap paleo party

I've been fighting the post-vacation blues with lots of sleep, downtime, getting back into daily workouts and catching up with friends. Last night I went to Hello 123 on Queen West for the first time and really enjoyed it. Really tasty vegan menu that's almost entirely gluten free. I enjoyed the Lettuce Wrap Paleo Party and it was an awesome mix of things that was super delicious! It looks like it's already becoming a bit of a hot spot, so try to get there early or maybe stop in for lunch so you don't have to wait for a table.

rupi kaur the sun and her flowers

Oh, it's beautiful and heartbreaking just like her first book.

I love hearing Esther Perel talk about relationships, so this podcast that gives you an insider perspective to some of her sessions with couples is next level. 

I hope you're all staying cozy as we head into autumn! Any tips for beating the post-vacation blues? Seems to be the most popular one is to start planning the next vacation...

Weekly Adventures 10.13.17

Hello from Hong Kong (complete with these LINE friends)

We've been having another fantastic week exploring, eating all sorts of delicious food, visiting with family, shopping, swimming and enjoying the hot weather. We also busted out the ukulele for a wee show for the family and to participate in the #ukesnotnukes virtual flashmob for peace.

I've only got a few days left, but I know that I'll be looking forward to coming back very soon. As a city girl at heart, I feel quite at home here. Once I'm back, I'll be sharing all the details of our adventures and eats! 

Weekly Adventures 10.6.17

I had an awesome plan to write a weekly adventure update last week, but packing and planning got the best of me and the next thing I knew I was on a 14.5 hour flight to Hong Kong!

I've been waiting for this day for a couple of months now, and having been in Hong Kong for nearly a week I can say that I love it here - what an incredible city. I can't wait to share more of my faves and photos in a proper, upcoming post. For now, I suggest you follow along via Instagram where I've been sharing daily snippets as part of my story - you can find me @ashleydtl

In the meantime, thanks for your awesome response to my break-up advice post and I hope that all my Canadian friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Break Up Advice: 9 Things I've Learned

Break-ups suck. There, I said it.

While dating in my 20s after my first big relationship ended, I had my fair share of "break-ups" but when you've only been seeing someone for a few weeks, or a couple of months it doesn't usually have the same intense ramifications of the break up of a long term relationship. Sure, you're sad and it hurts and it sucks, but in my experience I was able to dust myself back off and keep moving forward. Sometimes the ghosts of those relationships would pop back up, but it mostly felt manageable.

With everyone I dated and subsequently broke up with, I learned things about myself and what I was looking for in a relationship. And then I took those things with me into the next encounter or person I dated. 

With my most recent ex, our break up hit me hard -- because for a long time I believed he was "the one". I thought he was the person that I had been looking for, and that everything that I had learned had led me to him. It was a difficult thing to come to terms with and hit me hard.

By the end I knew that it was time for me to move forward and I've spent the last 9 months working on healing and re-establishing who I am, and what I want in a relationship. And while I know our break up was the right thing, I still have moments of intense sadness. In those moments, these are some things I've learned along the way.

1. Random things will make you sad

"Oh hi new season of the show we used to watch together"
"Weird -- I know the people in those photos and those were taken in my old house"

After a break up there, are times when you'll expect to be sad (When you find a photo of the two of you, their birthday, a song you both loved comes on, when an acquaintance asks about them, when you decide to write a post giving break up advice...) And then sometimes the sad break up feelings surprise the heck out of you at the most random, mundane moments - like when Netflix releases the newest season of your favourite show, or you catch a glimpse of a photo of them on a friend's social media stream, or when you pass someone wearing their favourite fragrance in the street. 

It's ok.
You're totally normal.
And it's really ok to feel the sad feelings.

2. You're going to have awkward conversations

...With people who don't know you've broken up, or when friends run into your ex or catch something they post on social media. It's going to be uncomfortable and may cause some sadness, but these moments will decrease over time.

3. People will take their side

This usually comes in the form of their friends and family members, but sometimes you'll be surprised by the people you thought fell into "mutual" territory. You could be ignored, deleted and/or blocked. Do your best not to take it personally.

4. You lose more than just the partner

To be totally honest, losing my partner's family ranked high as one of the really tough things about our break up. They became part of my family and I felt very thankful to have them in my life. We shared a lot of really great memories on holidays, vacations and at random family dinners and they provided me with a lot of love and support. Last Christmas was so hard because it was the first one I wouldn't be spending with them in 4 years. A friend recently wrote an article about maintaining relationships with with your ex's family, which I found interesting, but it hasn't been an experience that I've encountered so far.

5. Having support is key

Whether that be your best friend, your trusted aunt, a therapist or any combination of these people, having support while you're going through this tough time is absolutely key. It's so tough and there are a lot of emotions to process and logistics to sort out, but you don't have to do it alone. Talk to someone and let them be there for you when you need to cry or vent or pack up your belongings to move to your new place. I was very thankful to have incredible support from my friends and therapist while I was going through my break up. It helped me to feel less alone and allowed me to process everything that I was feeling and working through in a very safe way.

6. Months later you'll have more clarity

In the moment, it's so hard to recognize this and not feel anything but sad. But the days will get easier, especially if you practice good self care and surround yourself with an awesome team. Your gut will tell you that you've made the right decision, even if it didn't feel easy at the time.

7. Once you're out of the woods, you'll hopefully be able to reflect on the good things you had

We always remember the beginnings and endings, but when it comes to relationships I feel like it's so easy for us to ruminate on the not-so-great things, especially at the end. There will come a day when you'll hopefully be able to reflect on the great memories, the laughs you shared or at least the positive things you gained from the relationship (even if they don't involve the person directly). I recently came across some photos of my ex and I, along with some cards and while they made me sad on one hand, I was also able to smile and remember some good feelings from those moments in our time together.

8. One day you're not going to think about them

And you'll realize it and feel strange.

This person was a daily fixture interwoven into your life for the duration of your relationship, and suddenly they don't even cross your mind and aren't a part of your life anymore. You'll start to have more and more of these days.

9. You probably won't be able to be friends

Some former couples defy this and manage to have healthy friendships, but after you break up with someone you'll probably realize one of 3 things:
  1. You have nothing to be friends about. Your relationship started in flirtation and dating, went on to be a partnership and after it's over there isn't really a reason for you to stay connected. 
  2. They're not a good person and you don't want them in your life at all.
  3. It's just too difficult for one or both of you.
This could change and evolve over time, but being friends with an ex can be really, really hard.

If you're going through a break up, give yourself some grace, surround yourself with some awesome people to support you and continue to practice self kindness. I don't really want to give you cliched advice like "it's going to make you stronger" -- but it's kinda true. You'll get to the other side and realize new things about yourself, who you want to be in a partnership and the kind of partner you want to be with.

The feelings I've had following this break up have continued to surprise me, but I'm proud of the growth I've felt along the way. I haven't felt paralyzed by my thoughts or feelings, but instead it's been an opportunity to reflect, re-evaluate and do my best to take care of myself.