Kintsugi and Me: The art of precious scars

(Mental note – open up with something fun, include the audience, and hype up the women who follow you. Make everyone get up and shout as loud as they can)!

Most people do not know that I was born in Japan. Something that I love about Japan is the style of art they use to fix broken objects. 

This process is called Kintsugi: the art of precious scars. 

When a bowl, teapot or precious vase falls and breaks into a thousand pieces, we throw them away angrily and regretfully. Yet there is an alternative, a Japanese practice that highlights and enhances the breaks thus adding value to the broken object. 

I stand before you tonight as a broken object. 

I am not a victim of my abusers. I am a survivor. 

I am a climber of life’s biggest mountains. 

I am an overcomer of bullying and hurtful words.

I am a woman recovering from an eating disorder that stole the happiness from my heart for five years of my life. 

I am a daily fighter of anxiety and depression. 

I am a tough woman who battles the 30 cysts that fill my ovaries through a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. 

I am filled with gold by the love of my incredible village of family, friends, and believers. 

At 32 years old, I know through all of those stories and experiences, I am reminded that I am beautifully broken. But, these scars are reminders of my fight and resiliency in life. 

And so are you, my darlings. 

Whatever has broken you, I encourage you to fill with gold just like they do in Japan! 

Do not throw away or dismiss what has broken you. 

Grow from the pain. 

Heal from the hurt. 

And fight through the challenges.

 It may not be easy, but I promise to gain grit and build your resiliency is worth it!

To Sarah, my incredible friend who nominated me, I have a gift for you. 

(MENTAL NOTE: Read the message on the necklace about being ENOUGH – SO ENOUGH YOU WOULDN’T EVEN BELIEVE IT)!

Through all my struggles, there are 3 words that I repeat to remind myself that I am filled with gold instead of covered in scars. 

Those 3 words are: I AM ENOUGH. 

I wear these words on a golden necklace every single day of my life. 

Earlier this year when I felt like my life was falling apart and I lost many people I love and, the necklace kept breaking. The chain would fall apart and the “I AM ENOUGH” message would crash on the ground. 

Each time, I went to my husband and said, “Fix this.” 

Of course, I could have ordered a new one. 

But that would defeat the purpose of what this necklace means to me. 

You see, this necklace is broken, but still clasped together. 

There are stretches on the gold plate. 

But each time, I stayed confident and said, “Fix this” when it was broken. 

Sarah, please join me up here for a hug and your own necklace. If it ever breaks, do not throw it away. 

Do not order a new one. 

Fix it. Or make your husband fix it like I did because I am NOT handy. 

Thank you for honoring me this evening. I am hopeful that through my vulnerability and authenticity in life that you will have the courage to face what’s broken you and realize the strength that comes from what you believe are your weaknesses.

Tonight, I accept this award with a grateful heart and appreciation for every single person in this room. I know that what broke me in the past is what shaped me into becoming the woman that I am today. 

As you leave tonight, remember this: 

All your life you just need one person to believe in you: and that person is YOU!

Thank you.

###

That was my speech for winning the Athena Young Professional professional award. Athena is a Greek goddess who is known for her strength, courage, wisdom, creativity, and bravery. Before this award, I only knew of the word Athena from my triathlon races.

When I do my triathlons, I race in the Athena division. This is for women who are 165 lbs or heavier. As a woman who is sitting around 225 lbs today, I ALWAYS race Athena. You get the chance to place with women around the same fitness level as you. Two summers ago, I actually placed FIRST in the Athena division during a male and female triathlon. It was a day I’ll never forget and not just because it happened to be one of my very best friends’ 40th birthday!

With that context in mind, I always thought Athena meant plus-sized or I joked it was the “chubby girl” division. But honey, I was a fool. Now I know that Athena doesn’t mean chubby or unqualified to race with the others. Athena is a badge of honor.

Being an Athena woman means I am strong.

I am brave.

I am a couragous woman.

I am wise.

I am creative.

I am strategic.

I am a wild force in this world, excited to leave my mark and lift everyone up along the way!

I am an Athena. And I will remind myself that every single day for the rest of my life.

Here are some pictures of the most magical night.

 

Much love,

Ashley

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