Fabulous 40 Over 40!
Meet Kelly Ashling
Kelly and I met at a Rising Tide Society meeting back in 2018, which seems like forever ago now! She has an amazing and very passionate story, so please read here!!!
What is your background?
“Born and raised in South Florida, I grew up surrounded by culture, family, and opportunity. Thanks to my hero, my mother, I was able to forge a path of independence through seeking knowledge and helping others that allowed me to pursue my dreams of success in both life and career. It was her strength, perseverance, and sacrifice that drove my passions, inspired my spirit, and gave me the ability to overcome that which seemed to be failures and turn them into lessons. She went back to school for 10 years while working full time, with no financial assistance, to receive advanced degrees and better support her family. She managed to get us kids to Disney World frequently, support our extracurricular activities, and would make it to see me march in the band even though it meant running through the mud in heels just in time to hear the first note. We never had the best or the most of anything, but we never needed or wanted for a single thing. I always felt richer than anyone else I knew growing up, for I had the experiences and the memories to prove it. Every success in my life is a direct result of the foundation she laid for me each and every day. She is the human that I will always strive to be, and my goal is to continue to make her proud and show her I am worthy of all that she sacrificed.”
What are three words that define you now?
“Passionate. Unwavering. Genuine.
I feel as if these words have always defined me – they may have just been described differently depending on the environment. I’ve been told I am ‘too intense’ for some people; I’ve been described as being ‘stubborn;’ and I have given up opportunities based on the fact I was unwilling to compromise my morals and integrity. I find all of these compliments, regardless of what others might say. I was the girl on the playground who pushed back when the boys pushed me; I was the girl who played on the all-boys baseball team and the all-boys hockey team; I was usually the lonely female on a team, cohort, or department and the first in line to change policies, rules, and standards. It is these skills that empowered me to challenge the status quo and redefine the stereotypes I faced so that, perhaps, others after me would not have to. I did not always succeed and was sometimes even met with unfair retaliation, but I regret nothing.”
What advice would you give to your eighteen-year-old self?
“I would tell my 18-year-old self: ‘There is no ‘right time’ for anything. The best time for anything you truly want is now. Don’t wait for anyone and don’t be scared of what others might think. Sometimes the best plans you have are the ones you never made – so grab a hold of what makes you happy and don’t let go. Do not be distracted by that which may seem better. The grass is not greener on the other side – it grows only where you water it.’ ”
Who are the most influential and meaningful people in your life, and why?
“My family are the most meaningful people in my life. Without them, I would have never accomplished all that I have, grown into the person I am, and had the courage to give all that I can to others. My mom continues to show me what it means to be independent, strong, and successful in my endeavors. My sister has taught me what sacrifice means, having had to give up so much when we were young to protect me from those who would hurt me. My son is also someone I give credit to influencing my life greatly. Having only been on this earth for 5 years and facing so much adversity, he continuously teaches me every single day. His strength and perseverance humble me and remind me of the perspective I need to have, even when it starts to slip from my day-to-day view. Despite his struggles, and even without a single word, he does not let the world define him. His courage helps ME remember to question all that we think we know, and look at things from a different angle; because we might just see things we never knew were there.”
What is your profession and your achievements that you would like to share?
“I am currently a Network Engineer at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. Despite starting my educational path in the arts as a musician, I shifted focus with my first graduate degree and took a hobby of fixing computers and developed it into a career as an IT professional – elevating what was once a personal interest into a thriving career in data and communications technology that would span across both public and private sectors and over two decades. I have also held adjunct positions in higher education and have a passion for teaching others and sharing my experiences. My greatest achievements have come from supporting my organizations during crises and serving the community with my work in Information Technology. However, I also take great pride in my tenure as an instructor and it brings me great joy to hear from my students that I have made a positive impact in their lives and inspired them to pursue their goals feeling prepared and confident. All of these, however, are dwarfed in comparison to my greatest achievement ever – becoming a mother. It was a path undefined and continues to be increasingly challenging in so many ways. The journey is truly proving to be more unpredictable than I could have ever imagined, but my miniature self-tour guide is my favorite part of it all.”
What are your hobbies and passions?
“My hobbies include sports such as softball, mountain biking, and swimming. I love feeling the sun on my face and being in the water whenever possible. Being a diver, I feel more at home under the surface than I do with two feet on the ground. I also enjoy crafts using tools in the garage as well as machines inside the home with fabrics and vinyl. My passion for music brings me to the recording studio to sing, play the piano or the guitar, and renews my soul with every note. You might find me jotting down song lyrics on scrap pieces of paper at all hours of the night, as I can never predict when inspiration will strike! Teaching also provides me so much joy and fulfillment and I hope to have many more years of sharing that with others. Having taught at the college level in the classroom and privately, I feel that my greatest gift is being able to impart knowledge to others – thereby enhancing their lives through constant learning and adaptation to information as it grows and changes.”
What message would you send to other women going through a major life change?
“The best message I think I could give another woman is that you are NOT alone – ever. The greatest things in life lie on the other side of fear. So reach out to your community, your friends, your family – whoever you need to support you through this change – and they will help you find the strength you need to find that other side.”
What would you like your legacy to be?
“I would like my legacy to be that of a mother who never gave up on her son; a daughter who brought pride to her mother; a loyal friend to all those who entrusted me with such a responsibility; and a woman who brought strength to others. I don’t want to be remembered as the best at anything. I think that being the best implies that you’ve reached a limit and would never want to embrace that. I want to be known as someone who ruffled a few feathers, made a stink, and got people talking. I want my name to be synonymous with the pursuit of knowledge and truth; the creation and forging of new paths; and the willingness to take the risks for the most ultimate of rewards.
My son and the example I set for him are the most important endeavors I have in my daily life. If I accomplish nothing else of value in my lifetime I hope to always show him that his mother never stopped searching for answers, continued to seek out knowledge, and didn’t let anyone define her abilities or his. Always showing him compassion, tolerance, and acceptance of others is what I hope to teach him in everything that I do.”
What have you enjoyed most about your Fabulous 40 over 40 Experience?
“I have most enjoyed being able to see the talents of Ti Adoro Studios bring that which I have always felt inside myself, to art in one of its purest forms. I have rarely in my lifetime had an opportunity to participate in such a meaningful project while also walking away with such a thoughtful representation of my true self to share with others and keep in posterity. Capturing all that I am, both inside and out, is a feat in itself, and Alena was able to do it with perfection in this medium. For that, I will be eternally grateful.”
Kelly, we enjoyed having you in the studio, and thank you for sharing your story! We love that you were able to see yourself from a different perspective and this is our hope for all women who participate that they will see their beauty that others already see!
Would you like to participate in our Fabulous 40 over 40 special promotion and have the opportunity to share your story? We would love for you to join us!! Click here to contact us!! Fabulous 40 over 40 Experience