ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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The One-Hour Rule for Loving the Sh*t Out of Your Life

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired, Feeling Disillusioned With Life

A few years ago, there was this tacky term that made everybody cringe but also made everybody drool with wonder: lifestyle design. (Okay, fine, it was like ten years ago and I'm officially ancient.)

The term always annoyed me, because it was widely represented by a bunch of twenty-something hopefuls traveling the world with their laptops (okay, fine, it was me), and the whole thing just reeked of one big, cheesy platitude. Not to be confused with a cheese plate, which is 100% legitimate.

This, of course, is the problem with human language: words can never remain objective, true to their own merit, because we are constantly layering new meaning on top of them. (Sorta like how “hussy” used to be a mere contraction of the word “housewife”—*wide eyes*.)

Despite lifestyle design's bad rap, however, the conceit behind it is more relevant than ever—and perhaps more necessary than ever, too. Forget Thailand, forget outsourcing, forget the twenty-five-year-old doing somersaults off the edge of a cliff because THIS IS THE MEANING OF LIFE, YA'LL. Forget all of the preconceived notions that parade themselves all over the term “lifestyle design,” and consider what it means on its face:

Designing your life.

There's an artistic underbelly to it all; a sense that we may be able to style our days, rather than merely sit through them. To take life and shape it the way you might a cold, clay ball. To be an artist who uses her time on earth as her medium.

How can that be anything but honorable?

The problem is that most of us are operating under one major constraint, and that's an obligation to be in an office for eight hours a day—which is more like twelve, once you add in all the time it takes to get ready for work, go to work, and then return home from work. Most of us are spending 70% of our waking hours doing the Hokey Pokey around the workplace, so what's there left to design?

I do not pretend to know the answer to that. When I was still in the corporate world, I couldn't bear to only live 30% of the time—it felt like my heart was only beating 30% of the time. Part of that was a function of the work I was doing, which left little room for inspiration, but part of that was the inability to create at the level I so desperately desired. I had this visceral need to sculpt beauty out of my own existence; if not beauty, then what's the friggin' point? Surely our purpose is not merely to withstand. (And withstand. And withstand.) For me, it was a compulsion to save my own life. Work that didn't inspire me felt like a violent assault on my person.

What I can tell you, after a decade of working independently and forging a lifestyle that's unique to most?

Every hour is always a new chance.

Whether you've got two or twenty, this is true. But we forget that—all the hours start bleeding together, tainted by those that came before it. Maybe because when you work for others, you don't own your time the way you do when you work for yourself; every individual hour becomes something you strive to get through, instead of something you hope to make the most of. To be able to look at an hour and say to yourself, “what shall I create with this hour?” is a liberty few experience. And yet, it may be what so many are missing.

Don't be an innocent bystander when it comes to your own life. You are very much in charge. Whether it feels like it or not, you really can do whatever you want with this next hour. You can stand up on your desk and sing Rihanna. You can go to the airport and get on the next plane. You can begin the first chapter of the book you've always wanted to write. You can sign yourself up for trombone lessons. You can back out of every commitment you've ever made. You can paint your hair purple, or quit that project, or tell your boyfriend it's over, or walk into that class you've been dying to try…right…fucking…now.

Right fucking now is the best time to do anything.

Make no mistake: there is great dignity in pleasure. There is an enormous amount of self-respect in choosing to—yes, design—joy into your life. There is great fulfillment when it comes to creating your own specifications for the way you want to live. And there is an even greater sense of satisfaction that comes from being able to say that your time on this earth was yours.

And you spent it well.

And you were true to yourself, always.

Dec 20

2012

Always Do. You’ll Be Glad You Did.

Dec 20, 2012

If you walked in the door right now, I don’t know if I’d run and hug you hard, or if you’d seem like a stranger now. I’d like to think that I’d hug you. I’d like to think that I’d bury my face into your chest and you’d smell like your old cologne–which kind, I […]

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Oct 25

2018

Be Brave, Courageous, Interesting, Crazy, Difficult, Weird, and Downright Complicated. But Don’t You Ever Be Normal.

Oct 25, 2018

You know what’s fucked up? Normal. Normal is so fucked up. For example, it’s normal for expats to drink daily in Costa Rica. This is a terrible idea, and yet, because it’s done over and over again, it’s become normalized. NO ONE WILL GIVE YOU THE STINK EYE FOR SLUGGING A BEER AT 10AM, Y’ALL. […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired, Feeling Disillusioned With Life

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Nov 28

2012

Marilyn Monroe Wouldn’t Give a Damn.

Nov 28, 2012

Remember earlier this year… …when I sauntered over to Ecuador and had a twelve year old pierce my nose, as well as agreed to having a random Ecuadorian man sit on top of me on the beach to doodle all over my back with a mysterious black, sticky ink? Maybe we didn’t know each other […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Aug 31

2010

Slugs, Angel Hair Pasta & Vespas, Or, The One Thing That DOES Define You In This Life

Aug 31, 2010

So, I’m sitting in the bar at this restaurant. I’m lovingly twirling my fork into a steamy, lemony, buttery, most delightfully angelic heap of angel hair–the creamy, makes-you-throw-your-head-back-with-glee kind of pasta that, I was thinking, should probably be forbidden for nuns, because, I swear, this pasta is far more decadent than the best sex you […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Mar 9

2017

There’s No Such Thing as The Committee of True & Actual Greatness™

Mar 9, 2017

You know what’s the absolute worst? Waiting in line at the doctor’s office. There’s a lot of anxiety around that, am I right? Nobody likes waiting at the doctor’s office because we all secretly think that the doctor’s just sitting behind a closed door somewhere, doing wheelies in an office chair, watching the minutes churn […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Jul 8

2010

When Being in Control is a Disservice

Jul 8, 2010

I’ve got little patience for excuses. I proactively call myself out whenever I catch myself making excuses in order to either procrastinate or invent reasons why I shouldn’t put myself out there. Why? Because sometimes, putting yourself out there is nail-bitingly, blood-curdingly, will-drive-you-to-drink, flat-out terrifying at times. It’s far easier to continue doing what we’ve […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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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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