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Success Is Where the Heart Is

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

He sat in the far corner of the room–no clip board, no notepad, no smile.

I couldn't make out his face–the room was dark and the curtains were drawn.

I waited for Al Pacino to bust down the door, cigar in hand.

I was seated near the door, at a table, with a woman named Carol opposite me. I was to address Carol–not the man in the corner–and, most importantly, stay focused.

I trembled as I pulled a box out of the garbage bag. It was a brown cardboard hexagon-shaped box. One I had bought at a craft store two weeks prior. One I had labored over. Sweat over. And one that I hoped would change everything.

“This,” I started, pointing at a scanned, shrunken newspaper article that I had pasted to one side, “was the stone wall I built for my friend Jill.”

Carol's face remained indifferent.

“She passed away when we were in middle school.”

I slowly rotated the box. “And this, over here, is when I led our volleyball team to a district championship as Captain.”

“I bet your mother was very proud,” Carol interjected.

“My mother never saw me play volleyball.”

I quickly glanced away and continued on with my carefully planned monologue, pulling a second box from inside the bigger one. Another hexagon.

With each turn of the box, I listed yet another arbitrary achievement–Honor Society President, Student Council Secretary, Yearbook Staff–before pulling out an even smaller hexagon box and rattling off more of the same. I had spent hours scanning, shrinking, and painstakingly pasting evidence to my hexagon boxes.

“And this,” I said, “is a copy of the eulogy I gave, as I led my father's memorial service,” before rotating the box to show another side. “And this is the estate sale I held thereafter.”

“How old were you?”


She made a note. The man in the corner did not make any notes.

It was then, however, that I pulled the remaining box from the stack–the smallest, and seemingly least important. I paused, placing the tiny box on the table, and mustered the courage to look her in the eye to say the one thing I had really come to say.

I took a deep breath.

“But none of any of that matters,” I began. “Not the awards. Not the recognition. Not the hardship. And nothing I've just gotten done telling you about.”

I had her attention.

“Because if you would do me the honor of opening the last box, you'll see why.”

I slid the box toward her. She lifted the lid.

Inside was a plush red something, tucked neatly inside.

“What makes me a future entrepreneur,” I said, “is that, right there.”

She pulled it out of the box.


It was then that, despite the shadows, I noticed a small smile spread across the founder of's face. Andy McKelvey then stood up, walked over to me and shook my hand.

One week later, I had won a fully paid scholarship to a private university, including room and board and a brand new laptop, worth over $120,000.

I accepted the award on stage, and watched as the other winners' families surrounded them with flowers, proud faces and dinner reservations at fancy restaurants.

I silently snuck out the side door.

Everything was going to be alright.

It wasn't until many years later that I was convinced that what I had said in that interview room at Penn State University wasn't just a well-executed line to win a scholarship.

It was the truth.

And throughout the years would I come to discover just how true it actually was.

Because as it turns out, no matter who you are, what your circumstances are, or how little you're starting with…

…heart will always, always, always be your number one asset.

And sometimes, all we need to do?

…is remember to access it. 

Jul 30


On NOT “Following Your Dreams”

Jul 30, 2010

You know, this whole “follow your dreams” thing is getting a little old, right? Coming from me, that’s probably surprising. But the problem is that so much of it is fluff. So much out there encourages you to start “living the life of your dreams,” while frolicking on a big white puffy cloud and nibbling […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


Oct 1


How to Get Back to Feeling Like Your Old Self Again

Oct 1, 2019

I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this, but turns out, renting a room above an Irish pub that’s rather “could be great, could be a fungal groin infection” is an excellent idea. I do not say this because of the corner table you’ll get next to the fireplace downstairs, where you will proceed to […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


Feb 11


Education & Wage Slavery: Hand In Hand?

Feb 11, 2010

A no-nonsense look at the education system’s hidden agenda–why we’re being taught what to think, instead of how to think, and how this affects not only us, but the bigger picture at hand. Put on your thinking caps for this one. (P.S. Please don’t egg my house if this makes you angry.)

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


May 10



May 10, 2018

You know those creeps who never drink any water and you’re all, “BUT YOUR CELLS! YOUR CELLS ARE SHRIVELING LIKE LITTLE CALIFORNIA RAISINS!”  (Unless this is the kind of thing that only goes through my brain, in which case, welcome to my inner landscape, ya’ll.) I feel the same way about time. There are so many people who aren’t drinking […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired, Feeling Disillusioned With Life


Oct 15


A Conversation With An Immigrant on U.S. Life

Oct 15, 2010

I had an insightful conversation with a Mexican immigrant the other day. We also might have had a round of margaritas, which could have enhanced the perceived value of the conversation, but nevertheless, I wanted to share it with you. It went something like this: ME: So, I imagine you came here with some expectations […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


May 31


“Ding, Ding, Ding! You Can Have Fun Now!”

May 31, 2016

I’m going to England tomorrow. By which I mean I’m stepping inside a long metal torpedo and sitting my fat ass down on some murky blue pleather for an exact distance of 5,429 miles across a cold, dreary ocean that always makes me wonder things I shouldn’t ever wonder. Like: Would I actually remain calm […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired


I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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