My name is Ashley Brooke Pride. I was born on August 7, 1983 in Morgantown, WV. My parents are Roy and Cheryl Pride. They have been married for 41 years. I have 6 siblings: Shannon, Jaclyn, Meredith, Courtney, Dominique, and Roy. We're not your typical family, but does that really even exist?
Growing up I was a mess. I had a bad attitude from a young age and was never a fan of authority. I hung out with the wrong crowds of kids and made some pretty poor choices. But with the help of my sister Courtney early on in college, I began turning my life around. Her and I were roommates and she wasn't going to put up with my shananigans. She may have threatened to tell my parents what I was doing more than once. One time in particular was when I didn't come back to the dorm one night and she had no clue where I was. At the time I was so angry at her for getting mad at me, but now I think about how worried she must have been not knowing where I was or who I was with. Courtney also motivated me to do well in all my education classes. I got an A in my Introduction to Education class and she presented the idea of me working to get A's in all of my education courses. (I was always a straight C student growing up. Studying wasn't something that ever crossed my mind to actually do.) So, I did! :) And after a not so successful first year of school, and a talk from my dad, I got my booty in gear and started working harder in school.
I worked hard in college to make the best grades I could. For the first time I was actually studying and taking school seriously. I also stayed away from home as much as possible because of the relationship I had with my parents. It wasn't a good one at all. My mom and I fought often and my dad and I didn't talk. It makes me sad to think back on that time because my parents and I didn't like each other. In retrospect, I don't blame my parents for how they acted towards me. I was a little b*tch. I was selfish, mean, and I had no problem letting them know how I felt. My parents didn't trust me, respect me, and I know that they couldn't have been all that proud of me. After I graduated and got my job in NC, they were probably as happy about me going as I was about leaving WV.
After moving to NC back in 2005 my life really started transforming. I was on my own for the first time in my life and I had my first teaching job. Moving to North Carolina was really hard on me, although I didn't know it at the time. I moved to the state with nothing but what I could fit in my old Ford Taurus, a credit card with a $250 limit, and little cash. I had no cell phone and no furniture. My sister, Jaclyn and brother-in-law, Jim were saints! They lent me their air mattress to use for a while. I didn't know until I put the mattress into use that it had a hole in it. I had to roll off several times a night to blow it up again. I had a really difficult group off kids that year and I felt so clueless as to what to do. I had gone to college to prepare to become a teacher, but when it came time to take the reigns I was lost. I dragged through the weekdays. I was always at work at 7am and worked nightly to 6pm. Then I'd go home and continue to work. I lived for the weekend. I spend almost every weekend at my sister's house in Burlington.
After my first month or so of teaching, my brother-in-law talked to me one Saturday morning about getting some bedroom furniture for my apartment. So after a couple hours of looking around at Discount Furniture World in Burlington and talking about prices, I found what I wanted. I hadn't had credit long enough to get the furniture on my own, so my sis and bro-in-law cosigned for me so I could get some furniture. I remember the night it came. I was so happy. I had always had a twin bed growing up, and now I had my very first queen bed. I had always loved the look of sleigh beds, so I picked a mahogany sleigh bed with a matching dresser and nightstand. My sister even gave me bed sheets for the bed. That night, I sat on my bed and did school work. My bedroom set was my only furniture. My first big purchase ever! At this point I had that and a 19 inch TV. Was I living the dream or what?!
It wasn't too long after that Jim (brother-in-law) and I started going to yard sales to search for things for my apartment. One weekend we found a coffee table and a dining room table. Jim refinished the dining room table and Jaclyn taught me how to reupholster chairs. We went to an old fabric warehouse and found the fabric together. I can remember that day like it was yesterday. My nephew was less than 6 months old and I can remember pushing him through the warehouse. Eventually, Jim parted with his favorite overstuffed chair and my co-worker, Jeannie gave me a couch. Viola! I had furniture.
I didn't make my first friend until after Thanksgiving. Thinking about that right now, I don't know how I survived with no friends? I had no one to talk to throughout the week. Dominique was studying in Europe and it wasn't like I could call her whenever I wanted. I didn't have a computer either. Isn't that crazy?! No computer!!! But that eventually came, and now I'm on my 2nd one. It was so nice when I did finally start making friends and having a social life. Work was running my life and I needed something more than that.
Making a life in NC was hard as hell. Thank goodness for my sister and Jim. They were so good to me and they didn't have to be. Jaclyn and I weren't very close at all before coming to NC. But she helped me when she could and so began the start of a wonderful friendship. And I want you to know that moving to NC was exactly what it took to finally build a good relationship with my parents. I've proved to them that I am responsible, trustworthy, and someone to be proud of. Four years ago when I was home for Christmas my dad and I were talking over a couple of drinks. He told me that he was proud of me. Hearing that meant the world to me. I knew that my dad and I were going to be okay. Ever since then he and I are great. My mother tells me often that out of all of her kids she knows that she doesn't have to worry about me. She knows I'm going to be okay. Y'all have no idea how much it means to me to hear my parents tell me these things.
I've learned through the last 6 years that I am a pretty strong woman. I've made a life here in NC that I wouldn't trade for anything. I've built a good relationship with my parents and friends and I was led to a life in Christ. Church and God were two things that made me say "Ew!" for so many years. Now, I am so proud to say I am a Christian and I love to share with people how he has led me to become the person I am today. He has amazing plans for me and everyday I feel him working in my life.
My attitude and way of life has completely changed. I have always been a smiler and upbeat, but I am such an optimist and a positive thinker now. Believe me when I say it wasn't always that way. I am not selfish as I had been for so many years and I truly want to help people and do what I can to make people feel good about who they are. These personal things I have shared with you in this blog about myself are the exact reasons why I have been so driven to help the young teens at the House of Hope. I see a lot of myself in those girls when I was a teen. Troubled and not knowing where to turn. Poor choices and self destructive behaviors. I know that I was led to those girls for a reason. I've decided recently that I want to apply to mentor one of the girls. I'm not sure what this fully entails, but I know that I can make a difference in the lives of these girls. I want to help them turn their lives around and not make all the mistakes that I did for so many years.
I've realized that with determination and setting goals I can do whatever I set my mind to. Life is too short to live with anger and hate in your heart. We only have the ones we love for a certain amount of time and it's important to never take them for granted. I am not the same person I was so many years ago. And for that I am grateful. :)