Lauren: First up, give us the rundown about who you are, what you’re all about, and your outlook on life.
Ashley: I am a California born gal whose life has revolved around the ocean. I have learned that my life is best served for myself and others by creating joy through doing the things I love and sharing it: surfing, making music, shaping surfboards, creating art. My outlook on life is do the best you can in whatever you do, and put love before all things.
Lauren: You’re someone that really knows who she is at her root. You know what you love to do, and you do it, be it photography or playing music or shaping boards, etc. What would be your advice to someone that’s on their own path to finding themselves?
Ashley: Take note when you lose time in what you’re doing…Your passions may be there,what you are doing in that space, and it is ok to be there.
We all have our own individual paths and no one can do your talent the way that you can do your talent. No one can write your path but you, so this can allow us to question if we are on the right path. You don’t need to look for yourself because you are already there… the business of life takes us away from that simple answer of just be.
Ashley: I’ve had many bumps. Nothing about how I do my life is “practical” (by many people’s standards). I do have times when I question myself, and find that my answer always returns to .. just be. i guess challenges can be: coming up with money to support your life’s purpose, or worry about people’s opinions about your decisions. But then.. it all works out when you give it your best. I had a friend tell me that if you are enthusiastic and give your best at what you are doing, then the universe will support you. I’ve found that this is true, and am learning to quit doubting myself. What is practical anyways? Doing things you don’t love because it seems the easiest option? It doesn’t always seem easy to honor your heart, but it is the most rewarding and in turn the most practical. Being honest with your heart.
Lauren: As an established PHOTOGRAPHER whose made his passion his business, what words of advice would you give to aspiring photographers and artists in terms of finding their own unique style based on your own experience?
Ashley: Put it out there. Do what feels good. Do it.
There was a time when I wouldn’t attempt to do art because I was surrounded by such incredible artists that it seemed like.. what’s the point, they’ve got the talent, not me… But then you realize that the process of art feels good. I can be influenced by a great artist, but I can not, nor do I want to duplicate what there doing and how they’re doing it. And just the same, only I can make art the way I do…it is an outlet of expression or feelings, or who knows what.. but it feels good to do. And… its ok if you don’t like what I do!
Lauren: Let’s say someone else wanted to try their hand at SHAPING BOARDS. What’s your own story behind getting started from finding the space, to getting the tools, to getting it right, to learning the skills?
Shaping is a big thing to delve into because it requires a lot of tools and the right space and lights. After shaping my first board, I knew I wanted to do more, so I made a shaping room. I made 1 template off of my first blank. I used a saw, spokeshave, sure form, sand paper, sanding screen, and a sponge. The tools have multiplied since.. Please where a mask, ear, and eye protection. Keep your body protected, It is the only one you have. Measure twice. Be patient with yourself. Enjoy.
Lauren: SINGING AND PLAYING in front of an audience can turn some people frozen. Have you ever had stage fright? If so, how’d you overcome it? OR, if it’s always come naturally, what advice would you give someone that’s trying to overcome it? How worth it is it to overcome it?
Ashley: I still get a bit nervous sometimes. I’ve only had the frozen thing when I’ve felt unprepared with a piano proficiency test in school! That was hard to get through, but I got through…failing that test, and forcing me to drop the class. I made a comeback though… I decided to put in my all to music because I really enjoyed music for the most part and I wanted to learn more.. so I ended up majoring in it and giving it my best… graduating with honors!!! Went from dropping out of my music fundamentals class to being on the president’s honor roll!
Back to the nervous thing.. I heard that nervousness is the same chemical reaction as excitement.. so when you feel nervous, it isn’t always a negative thing, its just how you channel it. You can use that same energy to benefit you and remind yourself that you are alive and be grateful for that. I think the more you practice and remind yourself to enjoy, the more natural being in front of an audience becomes. A challenge can be a good thing. The worst that can happen is you’ll mess up.. and then everyone will find out that you are human. Imagine how hard life would be if you were were perfect and nothing challenged you. How would you be able to feel?
Some of the best feelings I’ve had in music have been when I was performing. It is exciting. There is an exchange of energy between the performer and the audience that is hard to verbalize.
Lauren: You also give private and group surf lessons and guitar lessons. Be it learning to stand up on a board or how to play a C minor on a 6 string, being a beginner can seem never-ending when we watch the experts. A lot of this comes down to practice, practice, practice. How can people looking to take a skill to the next level stay motivated and inspired?
Ashley: Experts never stop learning. From wiping out, to catching the best wave of your life… it is all adding to your experience and making you better. Enjoy the process. Success is in the process, not the outcome.
Lauren: If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would that message be?
Lauren: What’s been the greatest challenge you’ve overcome? How did you do so surrounding your main passions?
Ashley: As a Shaper: Making things look how I want them to look. Practice.
As a Musician: Being my manager and doing music as a career. Still working on it.
As a Artist: Doing it. Do it.
As a Surfer: Keeping it pure and present. Breath and be grateful you have it.
Lauren: As a woman who is really out there doing her own thing, especially certain activities like shaping where we primarily relate working with tools to the boys, how do you identify yourself as a woman here?
Ashley: Do what calls to you…. I was fortunate in that I didn’t have pre-ingrained notions that I couldn’t do something because of my gender. Hopefully if you want to do something, you will find a way to do it.
Lauren: Tell us about some of the women who have inspired you.
Ashley: In no particular order:
My Mom, Elaine… Enthusiastic, loving, caring, educating, nurturing, strong, supportive, human
Zeuf Hesson… My “Sista-Mama.” She is strong, feminine, smart, athletic, loving,great water woman, nurse of the year
Cori Schumacher… brilliant mind, philosopher, idea challenging, teacher, World longboard Champ, courageous, writer
Julie Cox… Consument listener, can relate to most people, artist, smooth surfer, encouraging and enthusiastic
Carla Rowland… heart on her sleeve, strong speaker, mentor, surf instructor
Diane Sanders… Malibu Spirit, loving, salty, great surfer, physical therapist,
Kassia Meador… Quickly brought style of ages to new, smooth, enthusiastic, pursuer, surfer
Linda Benson… Sparkling spirit, loving heart, legendary surfer, pure
mother-in-law, Linda Thompson… fiery, loving, wise, honest, encouraging, tenacious, 1st to dance at our shows, strong, one of first women to serve in the military while pregnant, accomplished business woman, courageous,spiritual. She passed away a few months ago and continues to inspire me more than ever.
Chris Cuevas… Loving, wise, humble, smart, organized, great mom, supreme athlete, nutritionalist, yogi,my new sister.
Lauren: What are some of the causes and organizations you’re most passionate about? How do you get involved with them?
Ashley: Being grateful. Eating as organic as possible. Using minimal amounts of plastic.. and reusing and cherishing the plastic you have. Loving
some organizations… Save the Waves, Surfrider, Ride-a-wave, Keep a Breast, Algalita.org, surfaide international … there’s lots
A FINAL WORD:
Lauren: What are some of your BIG plans for the not too distant future?
Ashley: Enjoy being married to my husband, Alex Thompson. Record more music with our band, The Shapes, and go on tour. Keep producing surfboards using entropy resin.
Lauren: Where can we view your work (art, music, and boards) and even better – purchase some of it?!
Ashley: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/theshapes6 is where you can buy our new The Shapes new EP.