When I was but a young editor at Style at Home magazine, the online world was much smaller – Twitter was fairly new, Instagram wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind, and people actually connected with each other as a community rather than as a way to build an audience to make money.
One of the people I followed on Twitter from the get-go was Ashley Cassidy Seale (Ashley Bartlett at the time), a tech-savvy PR pro in Toronto that seemed to be connected to EVERYONE. She used social media in its early stages to start the conversation and grow an audience for the brands she repped in a natural and organic way. And as someone who personally saw the growing value of the internet as a media source, it was refreshing to see a PR pro treat online editors and bloggers with the same respect as traditional media.
Ashley’s PR career was on the up, and then several years later in 2015, she announced she was dropping it all to move to Paris for six months. Huh? “People around me were really shocked by it,” Ashley admits. “But I had hit that wall. I was burnt out and felt like my identity was rooted in my career. I didn’t have those stories of backpacking around Europe after graduation, and I needed to find myself outside of my job.”
Turns out a little breathing room was all she needed. Ashley’s back in Toronto and has just taken on her biggest project to date – the launch of Ruby Social Co., her own creative communications agency. “The time away in France made me realize that my unhappiness came from always working for other people, rather than doing something for myself.”
Keep reading to find out how Ashley went from being a busy PR pro to a driven renegade who found her true purpose and happiness after a life sabbatical in France.
I’ve never been the type of woman who had her dream wedding planned since she was a little girl. No shade to those who have, it’s just not something I ever really thought of. It wasn’t anything I aspired to do – instead it was kinda like ‘Well if it happens, it happens’, ya know?
So when I got engaged to Damien last October, all of the wedding stuff hit me like a ton of bricks. Honestly, I didn’t even know where to start. When I told friends we were planning to get married the following October, they laughed and asked how many venues I’d visited yet (umm, none…?). They handed me stacks of magazines and as I flipped through, I started to realize that even though we were hoping for a relatively small wedding, there are loads of details that need to be considered and that the countdown starts, like NOW.
Well, it’s now been 5 months since Damo proposed, and I’ve learned a helluva lot in my first months of engaged life. For all my ladies out there who are wedding clueless like me (and to those who have gotten married and can relate), here’s a head’s up on 8 things that are bound to happen once you get engaged.
1 You become terrified of losing your ring.
The second that ring went on my finger, I was like, “Ohhhhh laawwwwd.” I have never in my life owned a piece of jewelry this expensive, and good GOD, I am terrified of something happening to it. But my friend Sasha gave me a great piece of advice: “When your ring isn’t on your finger, only have one other spot for it.” That way, you’re not leaving it beside the sink or on the arm of the couch and freaking dafuq out when you can’t remember where you put it last.
Well, my little Renegade baby, you’ve just turned two.
Where the hell has time gone? I feel like it was just last week that I was thinking up names for you and picking out what colours you’d wear. Imagining how you’d look and how you would sound. Like it was just yesterday that you finally arrived into the world and changed my life for the better.
I don’t know if you know it, my dearest Renegade baby, but my life was turned upside down when I decided to have you. It seemed a bit crazy at first, truthfully. Living overseas, I quit my job to devote all of my time to watch you develop, investing most of my savings so that you’d live up to your full potential. It was the first time I was venturing into the world on my own, dedicating my days to supporting you and nurturing you and helping you grow. I was scared and nervous and excited all at once.
I was at our Airbnb in Melbourne, sorting through photos from that day on our recent trip to Australia, a trip that was filled with wine and dining out and three trips to McDonalds to get chicken nuggets (I literally never eat McDonalds, and for some reason, that Aussie sun made me crave them on the daily. Weird.). But I stopped flipping through the photos suddenly when I saw a capture of myself laughing candidly, unaware, with cellulite on my legs and looking about 15 pounds heavier than I thought I was in my head.
“What’s up?” Damien hovered over my shoulder and looked at the photo.
“Damien!!!! Look how big I am!” I cried out.
“What do you mean? That’s how you look.”
I literally almost killed him.
The truth is, he wasn’t being snarky, but in his own way was telling me that he didn’t see anything wrong with the photo and I look great and to stop freaking dafuq out. But there was no going back from that pic in my head. Sure, I’m used to seeing snaps of me with cellulite – no biggie, everyone has it – but seeing myself a completely different way than I’d ever seen myself before really threw me off. I didn’t recognize the person in the photo. And for someone who practices self love, I was surprised at the shame I felt. I didn’t feel good about myself, but I also didn’t feel good about hating on myself either. It was all very confusing, guys.