ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

Learn More >>

Overalls and Ball Games, Twelve Packs & Venison: Overcoming an Economic Depression with Dignity

In: Finding Your Voice

I grew up in the greatest place on earth for exploring. There were stone quarries. Wide open fields. Farm boy boyfriends. And, more than anything, nice fucking people. (Novel, right?)

People who held doors, people who smiled back, people who waved at each other as they passed in their cars, and people who formed a community that, whether they realized it or not, were really like one big old family. Kind of like the mafia, but with less guns. (Unless it was the first day of hunting season, of course, in which case, everybody had a gun.)

It was the kind of place where you leave your doors unlocked at night, you buy cigarettes for your mother when you're twelve (with a signed note, of course), and everyone knows exactly how you lost your virginity. (For the record, mine involved a slide and a playground. Hide your kids.)

It was the kind of place for overalls and ball games, twelve packs and venison. And happily so.

While the word “home” has had a number of definitions for me over the years since the first time I strapped on high heels and set foot on a plane, there is nothing like this Home, with a capital H: The one that cradled your youth (and kicked you in the ass the first time you stole wine coolers from your parent's fridge).

When I go back, I see pieces of myself everywhere I look, from the railroad ties where I lit my first match (we had to entertain ourselves somehow?), to the “No Loitering” sign that prevented me from hanging out too long waiting for the boys with the skateboards. One thing is certain: You can leave home, but home can never leave you. Because it is you. The only thing that changes is how you see things.

Which is why, ten years later, I am back and I am in mourning.

The place that cradled my youth suddenly feels like it needs a caretaker of its own. Despite the natural gas phenomenon that's become so prevalent that they even built a school of natural gas, the place I love has become a battered lover, its face badly bruised, and its confidence shattered. As I drive through town, I cannot help but notice that things that were once charming, are no longer charmed. Homes I used to dream about living in are no longer something of dreams. And places where I learned how to stand on my own, both physically and metaphorically, are no longer standing. Even the trailer I was once mortified to live in has been stripped of its shutters. And when I see that, it feels like little pieces of me are deteriorating along with it.

Most economists might say that this is what rural economic depression looks like, and while there might be some truth to that, I have to believe that the more accurate description is simply:

This is what life looks like.

Real life. With real struggles. And real people. And real worries. Because that shit you see on The Real Housewives is a joke.

When I see the town market where I used to beg my mother to buy me 10 cent popsicles (lime was my favorite), completely closed up and boarded off, it feels like someone is punching me straight through my gut.

When I see the weathering of the town, and creaky old, rusty signs that stand as a solemn testimony to what once was, I feel like I am witnessing an alcoholic drug addict who's transformed into a mere ghost of himself.

And when I see friends struggling to make ends meet, despite being some of the hardest working people I know, I feel the despair right along with them.

Because, as with any family, their worries are your worries. Because no matter where I am, I'm still Jenny from the block. And I'm ride or die.

Which is why I've been spiraled into a wild vision, these past couple weeks, of building a small business development center. A physical building. An online version. Anything, something, to help the people and the places I love be strong.

I might not know a lot in this life, but if there's one thing I do know, it's about creating something from nothing. Entrepreneurship was my savior. I came from nothing, had nothing, rode bareback, and learned how to stand the fuck up again and again and again in business for myself. Not because I am strong, but because I am stubborn. Because that's how people from Home are. We're tough as nails—usually because we're used to actually having to hammer a few.

The good news is that eventually, when you stand back up up again and again and again, over and over and over, the odds slowly start to tip in your favor. You wear out the odds. You fucking exhaust them. And you have victory over them. Because at the end of the day, no matter how many times the lawn is mowed, it doesn't take it personally–it just keeps on growing. 

This is why I appreciate entrepreneurship so much.

Because it puts a kind of power into your hands that you can't get any other way. The kind of power that says “fuck you” to circumstances. The kind that doesn't give a rat's ass about social class and where you went to school. And the kind that will help you keep on growing, no matter which asshole comes along and tries to mow you down.

Starting your own business is this world's best kept secret.

You can make far more money selling your own game than selling someone else's–whether it's a product you make, a service you can offer, or a skillset you can provide. YOU are in control of your paycheck. YOU are in control of when you show up to work. YOU are in control of how much effort you put in–and get out. And YOU are in control of your life. No matter where you live. (And this couldn't be more true now that the cat's out of the bag with that thing they call the internet.)

For anyone who's feeling trapped…this is an ax hammer.
For anyone who's feeling stuck…this is a set of snow tires.
For anyone who's feeling hopeless, helpless, powerless and defenseless…this is a chainsaw.

All you have to do is be willing to stand up…one more time.

 

THE CHURCH
THE GAZEBO
THE TOWN
THE BAR
THE SHOES
THE SIGN
THE PARK
THE ROAD
THE POWER LINES
 

THE STORE
 

THE STORE DOORS
 

THE FALLING SNOW
 

THE DINER
THE TRACKS
THE YARD
THE SCHOOLBUSES
THE TRAIN
THE LIFE
THE OPEN ROAD
THE DOLLAR STORE
THE RIVER
THE TRASH
THE BRIDGE
THE INSIDE BRIDGE
THE USED APPLIANCES
 

THE OTHER SIDE
 

THE GARAGE
 

THE ROOMS
 

THE OTHER BAR
 

THE TRAILER
 

THE TREE
 

ASH WAS HERE

Nov 22

2017

There’s No Such Thing As An Idea That *Isn’t* Offensive

Nov 22, 2017

You know what I’m grateful for? Fucking. NOT LIKE THAT, SICKO. Although, I mean, I guess…wait. Let me start again. I like the word fucking because it’s representative of something so much bigger than that, which is the real thing I’m grateful for: freedom of expression. Remember that cute little First Amendment? It says that the […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

Oct 29

2015

“I don’t feel confident in my work.”

Oct 29, 2015

Are you squinting your eyes at the screen trying to decide if this describes you or not? (Of course you are, you’re probably reading this on an iPhone the size of my elbow.) It’s kind of an ugly characterization—nobody wants to admit to feeling less than confident in what you’re doing. And yet, I’ve got […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

Dec 12

2017

To The People Who Keep Asking Me When I’m Having a Baby

Dec 12, 2017

“When are you having a baby?” “You’d be a great mom.” “You’ll regret it later if you don’t.” “You HAVE to have kids!” …and I used to think people were pushy about making me try seafood. Though the decision not to have children actually reminds me of that: people are really convinced you’re making a […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

Aug 12

2017

A Note of Support for All My Dreamers Getting Their Ideas Pooh-Poohed By Their Family, Their Friends, Their Spouses, and Their Neighbors (Fucking Neighbors, Am I Right?)

Aug 12, 2017

In the year 2010, friends would call and say: “So, how’s your blooooooooggggggg?” The tone was obvious: How’s your cute little imaginary friend that you think is going to save you from the real world that the rest of us have to suffer through? The year 2011, I made $103,000 with that blog—a far cry […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

Mar 8

2019

The Surprising Reason Why I Decided to Buy My Own (GASP!) Apartment—As an Independent Woman With Her Own Money and Her Own Mind

Mar 8, 2019

“WINNER, WINNER! OFFER ACCEPTED!!!” That’s what the subject line read as I cozied up with a glass of red wine, last night, nervously awaiting the news. And when the email came through? I almost choked. “Omg, I have tears in my eyes!” I wrote in response. (Along with a shit ton of other capital letters […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

Apr 5

2012

Fuck Plan B. You’re on the A Team.

Apr 5, 2012

His name is Oskar. He’s Rastafarian. I met him when I first came to Costa Rica in 2004 and watched him trying to sell his paintings day after day on the beach, sweating, struggling to speak English to the tourists who passed by, working from dusk until the wee hours of the night to make […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

Dec 28

2012

Forget Your Manners.

Dec 28, 2012

It’s polite to: …fulfill your obligations. …answer them back right away. …nod in agreement. …go with the flow. …do as you’re asked. …drink because they are. …take their call. …give your undivided attention. …fill the silence. …and always be there when they need you. Then again, no one’s ever done anything remarkable by always being […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

Oct 22

2016

Your Opinion About Yourself Doesn’t Matter

Oct 22, 2016

Real talk: I think you’re a liar. A very, very convenient liar. I can call you that because we’re all in the same club. Because the thing is, when you’re out there doing creative work, and new work, and work that has no manager, no support team, no pat on the back, there are days when […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

Jun 15

2017

Having FUN Doesn’t Make You an Unprofessional Schmuck

Jun 15, 2017

Fun is underrated. We spend so much of our lives trying to get taken seriously, that fun becomes something we think of as shameful, dirty; something to be minimized in a professional setting. Giggles are juvenile; jokes are adolescent; anything more than a poker face threatens your status as “a respectable professional.” But that’s only […]

In: Finding Your Voice

READ ME >>

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.

Enter your email address and I’ll send you my advice column every week sharing everything I’ve learned—and so much more.

But no serial killers. I promise I won’t send those.

Privacy Policy Info Here