Ashley Barnes stopped to talk with me about her blog, her writing and A Spirit Led Life.org as well as her blog A Spirit Led Life here on WordPress where she supports and inspires women to heal body, mind, and spirit, develop a connection to their inner guidance, and lead a more Spirit Led Life.
Ashley is an Author, Poet, Energist, Coach, and Practical Mystic. Her programs include: Healing from Transition, Simple Self Healing, The Angel Inside (based on her book The Angel Inside: Inspiration to Connect to your Inner Guidance), The Mind, Body, and Spirit Cleanse, and more! She is a certified Integrative Nutrition Coach and Usui and Kundalini Reiki Master.
Please Introduce us to your Blog. What is it all about? What sorts of posts do you lean towards?
My blog started in 2012 as a “secret public journal” to house my poetry. I was participating in a virtual program called “Writing for the Health of It” with Jan Lundy. During the class, I pulled out my old poetry journal and realized it had been over 15 years since I had written anything. I hadn’t even noticed the huge creative gap in my life. I started writing again as a result of that class, and now I write 1-3 poems a week.
When I first started writing again, it was an outlet for the healing process I was going through at the time, as well as an opportunity to practice and play with creativity and inspiration again after so many years. As my personal and professional focus has shifted to spirituality, my poetry has shifted with me. Today, my poems are nearly always infused with spiritual messages, inspired by asking the question, “What does the world need to hear today?” Sometimes I have particular people in mind when I write. Sometimes it’s a world event that inspires me. Yet the end result is nearly always a universal message for anyone who needs to hear it (including myself).
What Inspires and stirs your creativity?
Nature is my greatest muse, especially the ocean. Being in nature connects me to the intimate and unseen energy of this world and opens all of my senses in a way that I can’t accomplish in the rush and noise of my everyday life.
How has your blog helped you as a writer/Indie Author? What things have you learned along the way that you never anticipated?
My blog has increased my confidence tremendously as a writer, and unknowingly served as my practice arena to work up to publishing my book. I’m not formally trained in creative writing or poetry. This used to weigh heavily on me. I continuously felt I needed more credentials to be considered a “real” writer. Even when I was strongly feeling called to publish a book, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t talented or educated enough to put myself out there in that way. However, comments and emails from readers letting me know that my words touched them, and the continual practice of opening myself to write, finally helped me to realize that there is more going on with the blog than simply a hobby or an online journal. Of course, there’s always room for improvement with any craft. Yet my epiphany was that writing is less about how polished or trained I am and more about how authentic and open to inspiration I am. I believe readers pick up on this and are moved by the energy of vulnerability in the words, which then inspires and empowers me to keep going.
One of my earliest writing influences:
The book, Women, Writing, and Soul-Making: Creativity and the Sacred Feminine by Peggy Tabor Millin, was mentioned in the “Writing for the Health of It” program and upon starting it, I couldn’t put it down. I connected instantly with the author and her depiction of spiritual growth through writing, as this had been the same process I’d experienced since I’d been writing again. In an interview, Millin remarked, “It does not matter what we write about or whether we are conscious of our process; writing heals and changes lives. “ And when the life of the writer is changed through the process of writing, the life of those she touches is changed a well.
Tell us about your book(s):
We all have personal angels as spiritual guides and they want to interact with us in a meaningful way. Through original poetry, inspired writings, and opportunities to reflect, The Angel Inside: Inspiration to Connect with Your Inner Guidance is a guide accessible to seekers of all faith traditions who wish to understand and embrace the many advantages of connecting with our angels.
What Inspired you to write your book?
The book was divinely guided. Demanded, to be more accurate. I had no desire to write a book and I struggled for over a year, feeling inadequate to write anything of value. I’m a poet; yet as much as I like poetry, I knew this book needed to be more, and I didn’t know how to produce that. So I kept writing poetry and avoiding the call until finally the message was clear and direct, “You are enough, you are enough, you are enough. Your life doesn’t need to be exceptional to inspire someone else. We will help you.”
From what Point of View do you prefer to write? Is there a reason?
I write primarily in second person for two reasons: 1) Writing “I” poems feels exceptionally vulnerable at times; and 2) My writing is most often a message or inspiration from Spirit, and therefore direct to “you”
When finishing the book, I kept the poems in second person as most were written, but changed all the prose sections to first person (“we”) to incorporate a more inclusive feel.
How would you describe your “Voice” or Style of writing?
I primarily write poetry that is inspired by Spirit. Some might call it “channeled.” I feel more like it’s a blend of my own unique voice and style with words placed on my heart.
Share an insight or secret about your book(s).
The entire book was written by hand. I write with pencil in a notebook and then type what I’ve written. For me, there hand writing is a visceral experience (though it’s often complete scribble) which allows the inspiration to flow more easily than typing.
The book was also written in a discontinuous flow. After struggling for over a year about what to write, I finally gave it up to Spirit and said, “I’m open, just give me the words.” I replaced my morning poetry writing with a focus on the book. Each morning I would sit down and ask, “What do you want me to write?” As words started to form, I would write for 10-15 minutes and then wrap up. I followed this routine 3-4 days a week for several months, until I felt finished, or at least at a place of evaluation. Then I typed up everything I had written so far and printed out each section to look for themes.
Even as themes became obvious, I still had multiple disparate chunks of written material with no obvious way to tie them into a flow. And they were short. Then, just as the words came to me each morning, I had the notion to pair the themed chunks with existing poems from my blog. Of course, there was a poem that perfectly fit each theme.
From there, I decided to leave each chunk as a “devotional-style” section that could easily be consumed in one reading, rather than try to force transitions from one section to the next. I added reflection questions at the end of each section, and the manuscript was born!
What do you feel is your best advice to share with other aspiring authors?
Don’t get tripped up worrying that you don’t have the knowledge or education to be a writer, or that you don’t have an extraordinary life story to share. Those misguided ideas held me back for so long. Spirit can and does work with whoever answers the call to take up a pen (or pencil) and follow their inner guidance.
Would you like to share an excerpt from the book or a poem or two to give readers an idea what you offer?
From the Introduction:
We invite you to look deeper inside,
where silence overrides the noise,
where a gentle whisper overrides the silence.
That is your soul.
Go deeper. Leave this world behind.
Find us. We are here and we love you.
Who invites us to go deeper within? Who is it that whispers to our soul? They are our angels, our guides, our heavenly assistants. Our angels are messengers, helpers, tasked with guiding us through our human lives. They are loving and want only the highest good for all beings. They are a gift from the Creator, the Source of all existence, to enhance our faith, give us hope, ease our suffering, and remind us that we are not lost or alone, even in our darkest moments. They are the voice of the Divine, translated through love to us.
The angels asked for this book in order to make us aware of the many advantages of accepting their existence and opening ourselves to their constant love and guidance. The stakes are high for our own sense of peace and abundance, the manifestation of what we need and want, and for realizing our path in this life. The stakes are high for the world as well. Connection has a higher purpose for all beings, not only us as individuals. As we begin to accept and understand our spiritual nature, we come to understand our connection to the Creator as well as to all beings. This is our angels’ goal. This is our purpose.
The angel inside
Wishes to tell you a secret:
That yours is a life worth living
A dream worth having
That your very existence
Brightens the earth
In a way no other can
That the light inside your soul
Is not meant to be hidden
It is your gift to the world
This life that you live now
Is your impact on humankind
A model for generations to come
Death will not absolve you
But rather, lift you into the night
A shining beacon for all who wish to follow
Live this life well
Find your peace within
Do minimal harm
Right your wrongs whenever possible
Shine your beacon for those who struggle
Those who wrong you
Those who are difficult to understand
And most importantly
Shine for yourself
Illuminate your own path
Don’t wait for someone to do it for you
All that you will ever need
Is within you
If you had to describe yourself to someone who has never met you, what might you say?
I am… passionate & sensitive, reserved & introspective, empathic, deliberate, a quiet observer of human nature, often fearful, impatient, loving, kind, heart-centered, open-minded, spiritual, awakening to my gifts as a writer, a beautiful being of light!
If you could meet one person from the past, who might it be and why?
Perhaps this is cliché, but I would choose my mother. She died when I was 27 (I’m 41 now) and never met my children, my current husband, my brother-in-law, or my nieces. I know she’s with me now, but I’d love to meet her in person again, and especially to share her with my family.
When you are NOT writing, what is your favourite pastime?
I’m a continual learner. There is not enough time in the day for all the development classes and books that interest me! In addition, I play a lot of Uno and Clue these days with my 12-year-old daughter. I practice being mom to a nearly 14-year-old daughter (read: lots of patience). And I like to relax with my husband and watch our current favorite fun movie, “Guardians of the Galaxy”.
Describe Your Dream Getaway Destination. Have you ever been there? What makes this place Irresistible to you?
For almost 10 years, our summer vacation spot has been Siesta Key, Florida. It’s a small barrier island off the cost of Sarasota in the Gulf of Mexico. The water is clear, green, and warm, contrasted against the beach, which is comprised of incredibly soft and healing crystal quartz sand. In the mornings, I mediate and write by the ocean, then spend the rest of the day sunbathing, sightseeing, relaxing, and enjoying live music in The Village. It was the first place my husband and I vacationed together, we were married there on the beach, and now we take our kids as well. In 2017, we’ll return to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary!
Do you have a Mantra?
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Ghandi) I try to keep this front of mind when I feel confused about where to go or what to do next.
What “Charity” or “Cause” do you feel passionately about & Why?
I’ve always been drawn to animals and specifically causes that support their rights and welfare. For several years in my early adult life, I worked for animal shelters and volunteered with animal rescue groups, both locally and regionally. I genuinely believe our animal friends have pure souls which have a specific purpose to guide and support us in our journey through life. Currently, in our house we have six pets: two cats (Alice B. Toe-Claws and Colonel Steve Austin, who has only three legs), two dogs (Maddie and Max), a hamster (Jimmy Neutron), and a bearded dragon (Peaches, aka Spike). The most pets we’ve ever had at one time, counting all the critters in cages, was 12!
Ashley Barnes is a spiritual author, energist, and coach. She combines over a decade of leadership development expertise with Integrative Nutrition Coaching, Usui and Kundalini Reiki, and her down-to-earth style to support and inspire women to heal body, mind, and spirit, develop a connection to their inner guidance, and lead a more Spirit Led Life. Her first book, The Angel Inside: Inspiration to Connect with Your Inner Guidance, is now available on Amazon. You can contact her and learn more about her work at www.aspiritledlife.org.
I would like to Thank Ashley for stopping by and sharing her wealth of Insight with me as well as the readers and followers of Booknvolume. A Perfect Sunday meditation and Lime Light.
Many Blessings Ashley…and all my Friends