Intro

I’m not going to lie. This past week has been very difficult.

Like so many of us do, I tried to be the woman who could do it all; maintain a fairly clean home, keep the laundry pile at a level that wouldn’t swallow up one of the children if they happen to fall in it, be helpful to a very busy husband, play happily with my children and provide meals that consisted of more than just leftover Halloween candy.

Most days I do this job joyfully. I adore my family and love being a wife and mother.  I also know myself enough to know that I need a break. Even if it’s an hour or two in the middle of the week to get away, pray, breathe and create something that doesn’t require Elmer’s glue and kid’s scissors. I need that. For me to continue to be the woman that God has called me to be I need that time away.

Many weeks I just try to power through. I convince myself that I can do it. Life is so busy and demanding that often it is that hour or two that is the only flexible item on our calendar. I let it slide and rely on my own strength to keep it together and I always fail.

I reach a breaking point. Which is where I found myself this week. Too many days without a moment taken to step away, re-evaluate and appreciate.  Throw in some postpartum hormone craziness and I found myself in a dark place.

Let me take a moment to explain why I want to share this with you. Usually this blog is my happy place. A place for me focus on all that is good in my life and for me to share with you my passion and joy. I am so blessed, but I’m also human, imperfect and I struggle. I want this to be a place of vulnerability and honesty because through that we can learn from and inspire one another.

Postpartum depression is very real and I hope and pray that my vulnerability and willingness to share this part of my journey will give words to the emotions and feelings that so many mothers have. I’m speaking to myself when I say it’s not something to push aside and try to deal with alone.

I let myself sink deeper into a dark pit of self-doubt, insecurity and feelings of inadequacy. I felt as if I was a hollow shell of a human, going through the motions with no feelings of hope or creativity that usually ignite me. I had nothing to give, no words to speak and no sense of purpose.

This isn’t the first time I have felt this way. It’s never easy but I always walk away stronger and more knowledgeable as to how to deal with it.

The path out of this pit looks different for everyone and is different for every circumstance. I’m still on that road but there have been a few steps taken that have really helped bring me back from the edge.

As hard as it was I admitted this feelings and made them a reality by becoming vulnerable to a couple people who love me very much. This has helped me to feel understood and to see that I’m not alone, I’m surrounded by love and now I have some accountability.

Most important for me on this journey is that I love and serve a God who loves me. I know that it is not by my strength but through His that I can do my job and do it well to His glory. Even in that, I know that depression is so often not a battle of the spirit but an actual chemical imbalance that benefits from modern medicine. I’m not belittling that one bit as I have in the past used such medication. I am merely speaking to the path that I am on right now and how I am finding my hope again.

I know that I am emerging from that dark place when I feel tinges of inspiration. I look at a photo, a painting or a recipe and my heart leaps with excitement. I live for these bursts of creativity and the joy I get from seeing others create from their passion and doing the same myself.

By God’s grace I have been inundated with a bountiful collection of stunning cookbooks lately. Some I’ve purchased myself and some have been gifted to me from publishers with the hope that I would share them with you. I don’t often do recommendations on my site but I just can’t let you spend one more day without these books in your life.

For me they have been a source of joy as I flip through their pages and immediately begin to create grocery lists to recreate the recipes. The author’s words have refueled my passion and have inspired me to both pick up the spoon to stir the pot and the pen to write.

It is so important for us to continually refresh ourselves with the works of other artists and creators. Taking time to dream, refresh and to remember what it is that ignites us.

I am so thankful for these fellow artists. Through their joy they are helping me to rediscover mine.

dorieimage

Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours

Excuse me while I gush like a teenage girl that just met Justin Bieber. Recently I had the great pleasure of meeting Dorie Greenspan. After meeting Dorie I decided that I wanted to be like her when I grow up. Not only is she a baking and cooking genius but she is gracious, inspiring and just so darn cute in her uber modern glasses. Her passion is infectious.

The recipes in her latest book are accessible, inventive and suitable for both weekday meals and weekend entertaining. I’ve already tried her recipes for Waffles and Cream, Vietnamese Chicken Soup and Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good. The book is filled with creased corners of future recipes I am eager to try.

heartoftheartichoke

Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys

I had heard so much wonderful praise for David Tanis’ first book, A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes, but I have yet to get it. It’s back in the #1 position on my wish list after pouring through his latest book, Heart of the Artichoke. This book is stunning. The images, the page layouts, the font, the feel of the pages – everything about it, visually, makes me weak in the knees.

I can’t speak of the recipes yet, as I just received this book and have yet to cook from it but pages have been tagged and meals are being planned. Trust me, you will hear of this book again on this blog.

glutenfreegirl

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

I have been so excited for this book to come out. Shauna and Danny are incredibly passionate, joyful, loving and talented. I am so honored to be able to call them friends.

In the past week I have spent several evenings immersed in Shauna’s poetic words as she intimately describes her and Danny’s story. She writes with such grace and beauty that she manages to make even a proposal that was quickly followed by a fart seem like a perfectly romantic moment fit for any movie screen.

These essays tie together 100 recipes that create a delicious love story. I’m very excited to try the smoked-salt caramel ice cream and the blue cheese cheesecake with fig crust – among many others.

The book was beautifully photographed by Lara Ferroni.

salted

Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes

It’s quite obvious that I have a thing for salt. So of course I’m in love with a book that is solely dedicated to this essential ingredient. Most everything you could ever want and need to know about salt and all it’s various forms is in this gorgeous book.

It is written and photographed by the owners of The Meadow, a delightful store in Portland (now New York as well) that sells salt, wine, chocolate and flowers.

I am now convinced more than ever that I need to own a salt block – I mean come on, who doesn’t?! Or how about a Himalayan salt bowl to serve chocolate fondue out of? Yes, please.

These books have been such a gift to me recently. They’ve led me back into the kitchen, inspired me to take beautiful images and have me dreaming of the book(s) I hope to create some day.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Being so vulnerable in this space has been a challenge for me but I trust that this is a subject that needs to be out in the open and you kind folks have supported and encouraged me through so many of my life’s ups and downs, I feel safe.

I’d love to hear what inspires you and pulls you out from your dark days.

 

53 Responses to “Rough week, Great books”

  1. Michelle

    Thanks for sharing. As most of us know there is always a dark side to the light. The dark times make the good ones seem so much brighter. I appreciate your honesty. It is good to share these feelings because it may just be what someone needs to read and share, we are all in this together and we all have these feelings at one time or another.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      I am so incredibly humbled by all of your comments. I wish I had the chance to respond to each and every one. It’s so freeing to know we don’t suffer alone. Life on this earth is both joyous and incredibly difficult. We learn through it all. I know this too shall pass and I am seeking the joy in it as well. It’s amazing how happy a smile from my baby, a hug from my blondie and a funny story from my oldest can make me. These days are tough but they are so precious as well.
      Thank you for your support, your love and for sticking with me during this season. Once again I am so incredibly thankful for this blog because you are all a part of it.

      Reply
  2. Cannelle Et Vanille

    Hang in there Ashley! Things so get better as you know and it’s ok to vent and feel this way. We all do. It’s been a rough week for me too. Overwhelming, missing having an extra set of hands, feeling stuck… But it gets better. It’s a phase. An investment phase in our family’s future. xxoo

    Reply
  3. shannalee

    Ashley.

    1. I love the way you wrote your thoughts here, honestly and transparently.
    2. I love the way God’s grace shines through what has been (and is) difficult.
    3. I love how you’ve spun the situation into a way to remember good gifts, like cookbooks.

    You are encouraging.

    Reply
  4. Alison

    Oh Ashley, you inspire me! Thanks for the beautiful, honest post! You aren’t alone. Motherhood is a huge task and we all need time to recharge or we get crazy! I’ve been there plenty of times too!! Love you!

    Reply
  5. Caley Rosenberg

    Such an open and honest post – hit home a bit with me as a newly married wife that is staying at home until furthering my studies next year… There are just those days when it all becomes ‘too much’ and we need to take a step back and look at our ‘happy places and happy faces':)

    Reply
  6. Tricia @ {every}nothing wonderful

    This: “As hard as it was I admitted this feelings and made them a reality by becoming vulnerable to a couple people who love me very much. This has helped me to feel understood and to see that I’m not alone, I’m surrounded by love and now I have some accountability.” is the most fantastically self-aware, honest, brave thing I have seen written in a while. Kudos to you for all of that and, as you know, you are so not alone. I have been there, felt that, and trudged through the deep pits you describe. I even started my blog for the same reason you describe – to seek the beauty and joy.

    As a common lover of salt (and a person who also is dying for a Himalayan salt platter I, funny enough, always find myself drawn to pink peppercorns when I am feeling down. Maybe because I think they taste like roses, maybe because they are pretty, maybe because it means I’ll use them on veggies which I should be eating anyway. Who knows. It’s a thought. I hope you find whatever your pink peppercorn treat may be…and, if you haven’t seen it, maybe check out Brené Brown’s discussion on vulnerability (it really helped me recently): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0&feature=player_embedded

    Reply
  7. Leah

    Thank you for speaking so honestly about two things: the burn out women can feel when trying to do too much when we have little ones who need us and postpartum depression. I had it too after my second and it is not spoken of nearly enough.
    Blessings on your day and road to recovery.

    Reply
  8. Foodie in Berlin

    Even without the hormones. Being a mother is probably the hardest thing any of us are ever called upon to do (if we are of course lucky enough to be called upon!). I have had to dig up patience, humour I would have never been able to believe I possessed. At the same time, there is no “off” button to motherhood. It’s always on, it’s always go. Once you get on the ride, it’s near impossible to get off it.
    It’s good that you are intuitive enough to recognise your limitations, to ask for help and to be brave enough to share your difficulties. Most people have been there or will be there but when it happens to you, you always think you are the only one.
    I hope you start to see colours again soon.

    Reply
  9. Lara Alexander

    Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in sharing this. I also love being a mother and find it to be such a beautiful and fulfilling and amazing “job” to be blessed to do. I also need some “me” time on a regular basis – to rest my brain and body and to fill up again so that I have more to give. We can not give from an empty vessel, right? Thanks again.

    Reply
  10. Sis

    I am on the other end of motherhood, with 1 college daughter, 1 high school senior son, and 1 high school freshman son – and just 6 weeks ago, had an abdominal hysterectomy after a year of medical ups and downs…surprisingly, I am going through some of the emotional lows myself, and like you, am trusting and leaning on God to get me through. Those alone times, and cooking, are the joys that set my mind and heart easier and I know God is faithful to bring me through. Hugs and prayers for you. XO

    Reply
  11. Steph

    Amazing and inspiring post! I also have 2 little boys and a baby girl, and will be praying for you and your family.

    Reply
  12. Amanda at Enchanted Fig

    Wow, thank you. On all fronts.

    Postpartum Anxiety and Depression is not only hard to swallow and hard to kick, its hard to share. Such conflict, such, in my experience, shame. Thank you for sharing, we mothers really, need to take a good hard look at why this is so prevalent among us. It isn’t only hormones, its the isolation. That is one of the ways I shake the darkness. Connection, honesty, and some good old beautiful cookbooks. I will surely be giving these a looksies very soon. May your nights be full of sleep, and your days be full of those lovely inspirations that keep us from that oh too easy decent.

    Reply
  13. Kocinera

    I want to take a moment and applaud you for sharing your story with us. I think the best writers, artists, musicians, and any other sort of creative people are those who are vulnerable and honest. Not only does it give hope and a sense of understanding to others who are going through the same thing, but it also takes something painful and turns it into something productive, beautiful, and persevering. While I’m truly sorry that you’ve been going through a difficult time, I think you’re also showing an inspiring level of maturity and faith in facing this. In my experience, the hardest moments of my life have only served to reset my focus and help me to better understand and appreciate God’s love and grace. I hope that you’ll experience the same thing. In the meantime, I’m sending you a super-duper big hug!

    Reply
  14. caryn bostrom

    Thank you for sharing this post, Ashley. Vulnerability and honesty, conveyed with grace, is not easily found in the virtual world. Many of us share posts just as you have noted: “usually this blog is my happy place”. But it is so much more encouraging and real when we do bring attention to the fact that life is not all sugar and smiley faces. I’ve learned this in my own journey this last year, when people would comment on how happy and smiley my blog posts were and in reality most days were covered in sorrow, loss, and pain. So glad you’ve brought this important issue to your space and allowed your readers to journey with you. We will be encouraged by your hope, creativity, and inspiration as you continue to blog through this season!

    Reply
  15. Lilly

    I have visited your blog this week and imagined you were having a rough time. Take a deep breath girl. This too shall pass. You are feeling that way because at this moment your heart and mind are way bigger than what your body can take. You care too much, you worry, you try to make your loved ones happy and to be there for everyone, every day, every hour. You love so much that you think the problems of your family are always more important than yours. But your body will recover. And you will be ok. And you will be well-rested smiling at your perfect girl.
    If you get some minutes visit my happy place :D myeverydaybites.wordpress.com I am sooo new at this, I have been blogging for only months but I also express myself through food and find such a joy in sharing with my family. If you lived near I would send you my recently posted apple pie :) it such a comfort food.
    Life is not easy, but our optimistic minds have a hard time imagining difficulties so some times we are not prepared enough. This too shall pass. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Reply
  16. erin

    thank you for sharing these moments… oddly enough i had a baby right around the time you did, i know this, because that is when i discovered food blogs (my method to feel a little social, before actually going social – hormones, 9 months practically spent in bed, 2 year old etc. etc. kinda shuts you out, right? :) didn’t know you were a sister in Christ when i subscribed to your blog, but thank you for reminding me who will be my peace right now. my baby girl was sick all last night… i wasn’t beaten down like i could have felt when she was very new, but i was kinda like, “when do i feel ok with where i’m at, when do i regain balance?” and God says “with me, erin” and i say “i mean, on my own… when can i do it?” and your here reminding me, that it’s okay that i don’t know how to balance… it’s not really an issue, God wants to do it for me, just gotta ask. (: so, thanks for reminding me.

    Reply
  17. tracy

    Oh dear….how I appreciate this post SOOO much. You have no idea. Life is hectic and it’s hard not to try to do it all. I only have 1 child and cannot imagine what your load must be like! I too find solace in cookbooks. It keeps me going…it’s my happy place! I’m so glad to see that we share the same sentiments. Thanks for being so candid. I hope you are able to find a balance soon. xoxo

    Reply
  18. Kendra

    There’s a reason I love Shannalee. I’m just going to say a ditto to her comment. It’s exactly what I wanted to say. Also…
    4. Your homemade marshmallows still fill my dreams.

    Reply
  19. Jeannie

    Ashley, I LOVE this. I can’t really describe in words how much this post has touched my heart. Thank you for writing this. You have encouraged me, as well as many others.

    Reply
  20. Jen Montzingo

    Hi Ashley,
    Your recent post literally came like a bright yellow lemondrop just for me on a rather dark day in Hollywood. I’m not even a foodie yet, my little apartment can barely hold me at 4’1″ in the kitchen. But when I can be, I am longing to nest and nourish like you share on your blog. And thank you for being open about your struggle with depression, it is a battle made easier for me by brave voices like yours. Did you also do all the web design and layout for your blog? It is just so lovely!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Jen – Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry that you are having a dark day. I love reading about your adventures in L.A. Reminds me of our brief days in So Cal. I had a friend who is a graphic designer do my site. Thanks for the compliment.

      Reply
  21. AlaskaTeacher

    I found myself in my own little dark place this weekend. Cooking is exactly what pulled me out of it. I pulled up my list of recipes I’ve wanted to try and went to town on some that I’ve been procrastinating. Good food and quality time in the kitchen can do a lot of good…

    Reply
  22. Amanda@EasyPeasyOrganic

    Thank you for sharing this – you are so right, life isn’t always about ups. There are downs, too. And for me the downs tend to come on days that I have too many expectations. My life is easier when I just make it about Nelle … but, then, that’s not always the best thing for me, is it? I need to do my own thing, too. And exercise. And play in the kitchen. And when all those things don’t happen in conjunction, then I feel Guilt.

    I wanted to share with you some of my posts related to being a mum – and a wife – and a breather of oxygen. If you’re interested, please have a look. I know reading your post I felt a connection to what you were saying.

    http://www.easypeasyorganic.com/search/label/Meditation

    xx

    Reply
  23. Martha Collins

    I’ve been a lurker of yours for some time now. . . just wanted you to know what a blessing you are to so many, even to strangers like me. I have experienced these feelings too and often turn to blogs like yours to help pull myself through. Hang in there. . . God is good!

    Reply
  24. Dana

    This is a very vulnerable post Ashley and you have done wonderful work by sharing. So many women suffer through these feelings and imbalances in silence, wondering why they can’t make it through when others can. Thank you for being so real here. I hope you continue to get the help and support that you need and deserve. Let me know what I can do.

    Reply
  25. KellyW

    Thanks for sharing. I am past those days with little ones, but there are trying times with teenagers too and dark places all around. I know you will have reached someone who needed to hear your words and learn from your experiences.

    Reply
  26. Kimberly Taylor

    So strange – I know I left a comment…
    So many of us have been where you are – not fun, but so filled with growth. I love that you still inspire and are inspired. It is just a period that will pass my friend. Be gentle with yourself~
    Thank you for the cookbook recommendations – great ideas for my Christmas wish list!
    xx

    Reply
  27. abbeyviolet

    Hugs from afar. I feel your pain on the doing it all. My attempt to do so and ignore my body landed me in urgent care over the weekend so I’m trying so hard to learn to just stop and relax so I can heal physically and mentally too. I’ve been to the postpartum place as well and am glad you have recognized your surroundings and found help as it is such a difficult thing. Wish I could do more, but know that you are not alone, you are wonderful and there is so much light ahead in God’s grace.

    Reply
  28. Rachel

    Ash! I am down in San Diego at the mo with my BFF and her THREE little girls. I watch in awe….quite the juggling act. And their emotions ranging from tears to elation and back all within minutes…. wow. I think it’s important to just allow yourself this time to feel whatever you feel without feeling bad about it- you will soon come out the other side! Sleep is probably your best friend right now- Yay for your full night of sleep :) Hugs from Bellingham!! (San Diego).

    Reply
  29. fresh365

    Thank you for sharing! I am always attracted to bloggers that go beyond the superficial and are honest. Whether we have been through the same thing or not, I think we all know what it feels like to start spiraling down a path out of control. I am so happy you are recovering!

    Reply
  30. stampme

    ashley! i just found your blog and LOVE it! you are truly an inspiration and i am sad to hear that you are going thru a rough time. hang in there kiddo! you are having postpartum depression while i am having empty nester depression! can we ever win?? LOL!
    we all love you out here in cyberspace,
    xoxo

    Reply
  31. Bekah

    Thanks for your post. I also dealt with postpartum depression after my 3rd. I am happy that you have reached out for help, and I pray that God reveals Himself to you in a new way as you allow His grace to carry you through this time and through each new day.

    Reply
  32. Mary Gene

    Oh Ashley…so much to do, so many to care for…if it’s any consolation.TUTU coming!! Just a few more weeks, and it’s a girls break!! Can’t wait to see you and hug all the little ones…be of good cheer, the cavalry is coming with red liquid RX. :-)

    Reply
  33. nina

    Oh wow, I salute you for your courage to go public on this. Depression is real and something that can cause much damage if not treated. I pray for your road to healing. It is so refreshing to read about a love of God on a foodblog!!!

    Reply
  34. Betsy

    I’m sorry you’ve not been feeling well. My first baby is 6 weeks old and those first two weeks I was also not well. Like you, I relied on God every minute of the day to pull me through, and He is faithful. I will pray for you sister, and remember that it will get better.

    Reply
  35. Jo

    It’s not by chance that I came upon your blog with the first entry as the first one I read. (and to think I was just hoping to learn how to make Trix bars! :) ) God was orchestrating this. Thank you for your honesty and courage to share, especially on such a public platform. I too am going through a rough patch in my life, it’s been a rough year, and till things settle, in maybe 2 years or so, it will continue to have its ups and downs. But to be reminded, that we all go through valleys; as a single mother, as moms we try to do so much on our own strength, and as a woman of God, things may never go smoothly but I have Him.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  36. Maureen

    Thank you for posting about PPD. It is still such a quiet topic among women. It took me about 8 months with both of my boys to really return to normal hormonally. It is a long road, even the second or third time around when you feel that you should know what’s going on. Keep up with those prayers and time to yourself. Thanks again for speaking out…you speak for all of us mamas.

    Reply
  37. Annalisa

    “a hollow shell of a human being…” I could ditto that so many times. My second was born 8/25 and with both I’ve had some times of real struggle. Thanks for talking about it, though, b/c I don’t know how many times I’ve said to my husband (invariably in tears), “But how does everybody else do it?” Of course, saying it right now it sounds so silly and self-focused anyway. The point is not whether or how I can “do it,” but what God does through it and it’s so achingly beautiful to hear you talk about THAT process like you have. When I look back at such periods in my life, there are incredible things that God has given to me out of each one: lessons learned, virtues cemented, decisions made. Even if for nothing else than reminding us of our limitations and need for Him and others, it’s valuable. Endurance produces character and character produces hope and that hope cannot be disappointed. And common grace is such a consolation. That, yes, Jesus is God’s greatest display of goodness, but there are glimpses everywhere, cookbooks included! Anyway, this is getting long but you obviously hit a nerve out here.=) I’ll pray for you today. Also, another thing that helps me put motherhood in perspective is remembering that the individualistic go-it-alone way we do it nowadays is very much a modern invention.

    Reply
  38. Crystal Malek

    Sorry to hear about your depression. Fellow Momma sufferer, here. It was refreshing to read what you wrote, that it can be caused by spiritual issues but also by chemical ones. I spent years with people telling me to just pray about my issues. I finally found a supplement that has helped greatly.

    Good job speaking up. I know it helps when the darkness isn’t a secret.

    Reply
  39. Amy

    As my mother always said, “it’s hard being a parent”. Now that I am one I understand what she meant. Anyway, good for you for being so honest, we all go through those times of deep depression and it’s hard to get out. But you WILL and based on this post it looks like you are getting there!! I really enjoy your blog, all the recipes you share sound so delicious and just plain fun to make. :)

    Reply
  40. Amanda

    Ashley, I’ve followed your blog for over a year now, but have never commented because I don’t have my own food blog. But, I’ve loved reading, and learning through your’s! I couldn’t not comment on this post. Thank you for sharing from such a real, vulnerable place. Thank you for not glossing over your situation with beautiful photos, and amazing recipes. Like an above comment, I echo the sentiments that it is so beautiful to see that despite your circumstances, God’s glory shines through. Clinging to him will get you through this, even when you don’t have the prayers to utter to Him. Thank goodness we have the Holy Spirit to pray on our behalf when we need it. You and your family will be in my prayers. Thanks!

    Reply
  41. Jenna

    thanks for sharing your faith and your honesty! I am expecting my first baby in late January, and I’ve worried about PPD. Your words are encouraging and appreciated!

    Reply
  42. Janice and Tristan

    Ashley,
    You are such an angel. We are praying for you three times a day.. you and your family are lifted up to God in prayer from our home! “There is no secret what God can do”.

    Depression is very real and very hard! Just know we love you and your little family so much! You’re never forgotten in our home!

    Your biggest fans in Ohio!
    Janice and Tristan

    Reply
  43. george

    Very good written story. It will be beneficial to anyone who utilizes it, as well as me. Keep up the good work looking forward to more posts.

    Reply

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