An interview with Ashley Reynolds from The Write Stuff series:
When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?
When people ask what I do I first tell them I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, which is nearly always met by a blank stare. “I am a therapist,” I then say. “I have a small private practice in which I hold space for people to learn to love themselves.” At that moment their stare softens into a smile as they place my title and position in the hierarchy of things. Yet quickly, a second thought crosses their face, the word therapist ringing in their ears. A questioning expression appears, familiar to therapists everywhere, and although they never ask aloud, catching their eyes I answer “Yes, yes… I do see you,” which makes me laugh and usually them too.
What’s your biggest struggle—work or otherwise?
If I have to name my biggest struggle it is self-acceptance, which shows up both in work and otherwise.
If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?
Whatever you choose to do, let it be from a place of love and inspiration.
What’s been most important to your writing: education, or the real world? Why?
I guess the real world or my version of the real world is most important to my writing. As we are each subject to our own perspectives, it’s these unique views that define an author’s authentic voice. It is the authenticity in another piece of writing that I am most attracted to as a reader and feel a desire to strengthen my authentic voice as a writer.
If you could give advice to your 15 year old self, what would it be?
Breathe. You have shown up for yourself so far, trust that you will continue too. You are not responsible for how other people show up. Your heart is precious. Have grace and generosity with others, they are doing the best they can even when their best is kinda shitty.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
Yes, I am able to find joy in every day.
Why do you get up every morning?
To have tea and tell the people I love good morning.
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her/their story?
I do not. Yet, I am the fourth generation in my family to be born and raised in the Bay Area, which I am proud of. My great-great-grandmother came to California via the Oregon Trail when she was 3 years old.
What’s wrong with society today?
Kindness and respect could go a long way.
Where do you go to find sanctuary?
Outside. Anywhere with trees.
What is your fondest memory?
Staring up at the stars from a bedouin tent in the Sahara Dessert.
What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?
The Green New Deal, as well as massive infrastructure updates using technology to live in greater harmony with nature. Social Justice realized in the abolishment of the caste system.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
I believe art is completely necessary. Art is an avenue for self-expression. An expression that can be seen, interpreted and experienced by the observer. In this, art fosters connection with others and offers a reflection of self, increasing our understanding of humanity as a whole.
What is the relationship between your identity and your desires? Perhaps related, perhaps not: why is sex (un)important to you?
My identity is one that I continue to grow into, my desire is to never be limited by identity.
What’s your relationship to clothes? Or: describe the shoes you’re currently wearing.
I see clothes as art you can wear.
What are you working on right now? Or: what kind of work would you like to do?
In the literary world, I am currently working on promoting Little Girl Blue and her not so ordinary boots, a children’s picture book I am very excited about.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
I grew up in the Bay Area of the 1990s before tech and the first dot com boom. I miss that Bay but not sure I would go back. If I could change one thing now it would be more affordable for families who have lived in the Bay Area for generations to stay.
A night on the town: what does that mean to you?
Putting on an outfit I wouldn’t wear to hang on the couch and going outside at night.
*covid may have lowered the bar here.
Have you ever seen a ghost? Or: what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned? Or: what was your last moment of awe?
We all have equal value and worth. We are all doing the best we can with what we were given.
What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?
50 words can change political tides or raise the collective consciousness. 50 dollars might get dinner delivered for you and a friend.
What are some of your favorite smells?
What are you unable to live without?
Love. Without any sarcasm or agenda.
If you got an all-expenses-paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?
A trip around the world, visiting multiple countries on all continents.
If you could live in your ideal society, what would your average day be like?
I am grateful to more or less be living my ideal day even though I do not live in my ideal society. I wake up and share my mornings with beloved friends, have a cup or two of tea, and get outside. I engage in my community through direct service and find holding and familiarity in neighborhood shops, grocery stores, and landmarks which form the backdrop to the community I love. An ideal society, on the other hand, would be nonviolent, hold nonjudgment as a primary principle, and offer many many services so all can find ease in their day.