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I Am Women’s Bean Project: Ashley

I am a mom, a daughter, a friend. I’m happy, outgoing, funny, and strong. I grew up in Colorado and graduated both high school and college. I love to knit, spend time outdoors, and spend time with my family. Being close to people I love is good for me. When I was 25, I had my son. But I started to make some bad choices revolving around his dad and ended up incarcerated.

Before coming to Women’s Bean Project, I didn’t know what it meant to show up for myself or to advocate for myself. I didn’t know how to have a voice for myself or speak up if something wasn’t going the way I thought it should be.  What pushed me through this program was wanting to do it for myself, not because anyone was telling me to, but because I wanted to.

My favorite part of my time at Women’s Bean Project was getting to know all the women. A lot of us are really close right now. It was amazing having that support system with everyone and being able to learn and grow. As other people graduated, I was able to step up to more leadership positions. Having people ask me questions and being able to answer them built my confidence because I was able to help them, and that was really cool.

I enjoyed Dress for Success too. I got a lot out of that and it helped me prepare for my job searching and interviewing. I also thought the WRAP class was really helpful for dealing with some complex emotions. I don’t want to numb feelings just because I can, I want to feel them and know that they pass.

Women’s Bean Project showed me that no matter what choices you make there are people who will support you regardless. As long as they’re not harmful choices, people are there to support you in that because only you know what’s best for you. Through my time here, I learned production skills, to be accountable, and to show up for myself.

One thing that I’ve learned from all of it is that you have to lose who you were to find out who you are supposed to be. Just going through experiences like prison and living on the streets and doing drugs has helped me learn those lessons and figure out who I am and what I’m here for. Just because someone tells you that you’re one thing doesn’t mean that’s you’re that; what others think of you is none of your business.

Now that I’ve graduated, I’m excited about starting a new job, having a driver’s license, being able to be a normal adult, continuing on this path that I’m on right now of making good choices, progressing in life, and working on myself inside and outside. I also want to see my son in person before his birthday in October and be a good support for him. I want to be happy. That’s not necessarily materialistic things, but knowing myself. Another goal I have is to get a car and find better housing for myself while maintaining my sobriety, which is a one day at a time goal. Five years from now, I want to be off paper and out of the system, successful in my career, have a house to call a home, and have my son full time plus maybe a dog or two. Really, I want to be able to go out and do the things I want to do – be in nature, go on adventures with my family, and not have to sit through group sessions.

I am Ashley. I persevere, I’m confident, I’m accountable, and I can overcome anything knowing that I’m making good choices for myself. I’m proud of myself for proving others wrong, and not being a statistic and just falling victim to the system. I’m proud of myself for 7 months of sobriety and for being able to see who I am and what I want. I’ve really gotten to know myself over the last few months. I am determined.

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