1. Please tell us about you!
I know this is going to sound silly, but ahhh! I'm so nervous to do this interview!! I hope I do a good job... And thank you JULIE, for allowing me to be Penpal of the Week! I'm so excited!
Hey hey! My name is Ashley or Ash, whichever you prefer! I'll be turning 27 in December. I grew up in a small city in Wisconsin (USA). My parents still live there. When I was 19, I moved to a city about 25 minutes away. Family is something that is incredibly important to me, so I couldn't ever imagine moving very far away.
I'm very happily married. My husband and I met in 2002 — after he swept me off the dance floor one cold April night. We said our "I do's" in November of 2005, and it's been happily ever after ever since. (Yes, I do believe in happily ever afters!) He's my absolute best friend and always (always!) knows how to make me laugh.
I'm a very proud mama to two adorable little boys. I'm fortunate enough to be able to stay home with them. I honestly couldn't imagine doing anything else. My days are always filled with so many little adventures - whether it be scribbling in coloring books, dancing to silly songs, playing trains, or battling in a game of Frog Soccer. Being a mama has taught me so much about myself, and so much about life. I take a lot of pride in raising my boys to be kind and courteous to others, as well as the earth. When we go for our daily walks, we often bring a bag with us, to pick up liter that other people have left behind. As my boys get older, I plan on involving them in weekly community projects - like making cards for the elderly, walking dogs at the Humane Society, etc, etc. It's very important to show empathy towards others...
A few random facts about me... I'm a born again Christian (since 2006), and my faith is something that is very important to me. I'm a Capricorn / Christmas Eve babe... although I really don't know much about astrology. I'm a leftie. I'm a vegetarian. I love thrift stores. I used to be super duper creative... hehe, I lost a bit of that after I became a mom, but it's slowly coming back to me! I love playing board games and we seriously have the greatest collection of games EVER. I just wish we had people to play them with. Hehe.
My favorite quote used to be "Follow your heart". Over the course of the last few years, I've realized that it's much more important to lead your heart... because if you're not leading it, that means someone (or something) else is. I truly enjoy the simple things in life - splashing in muddy puddles, stopping to smell the roses, the beauty in the first snowfall... Those are the things that matter the most.
2. Describe your personality in 10 words!
Let's see, ten words... I'm honest. I know that sounds vague, but I really value honesty. My mom taught me the true importance of that.
I'm supportive. I'm that shoulder people know they can go to when they really need someone. I'm the type of person who will always be there.
I'm somewhat reserved. I don't really have any friends nearby (haha, I guess the word friendless could have worked as well... bad joke, I know). I'd rather have one genuine friendship rather than 10 friendships that are superficial.
I'm content with my life and who I am.
I'm stubborn. What I mean by stubborn is - it takes a lot to get me to open up sometimes (of course, I'm not referring to letters! I'm an open book when it comes to those! Hehe).
I'm messy although I've made progress with becoming more organized. (My organizational skills have been a work in progress for a few years now. Hah.)
I'm easy going. I don't hold grudges - ever! I know that might sound impossible, but it's true. It's a wonderful feeling to be able to forgive someone.
I'm thankful for my life - the people in it, the relationships I have, and the lessons I've learned.
I'm determined to help my boys develop a strong foundation, so that when they are faced with life's difficulties, they will be able to stand strong on that foundation.
3. How long have you been penpalling? How did you first start? Tell us about your first penpal!
I've been penpalling for a long time... My first penpal would have to be my mom. Haha. I used to write letters to the Easter Bunny / Santa and they always wrote back to me... Ah, if I only knew at the time... I was actually writing to my mom! Hehe.
I got my first "real" penpal when I was in 5th grade. I sent a letter addressed to "Any Student, Any School, Salt Lake City, Utah", and a boy wrote back! Yep yep, so my first penpal was a boy. I remember being so embarrassed. I tried saying he was a girl, but my parents were smart enough to know that "Rick" wasn't exactly a girl's name. Rick and I kept in touch for quite a few years...
Later, my mom told me about a magazine called "Tiger Beat". It was through that magazine that I met one of my best friends! My grandma took me to meet her when I was in 8th grade. We've been writing for 14 years now!
Here is a picture of the local post office. I usually don't mail letters from the post office, but this is where I get my stamps!
4. How many penpals do you have now and where are they from?
Right now I have a really great group of penpals. I had very difficult pregnancies, and was unable to write letters while I was pregnant...
Right now, the majority of my penpals are from overseas - mostly Europe, but also South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand... Most of them are "newer" penpals, that I found on Interpals. I'm quite excited about the friendships I've started to build with them already.
It's amazing how you can feel "instantly connected" with someone, simply from pen and paper. I recently became friends with someone on Interpals, and we've exchanged many messages... I also received a wonderful letter from her. I'm amazed at how ALIKE we are.
I have a penpal here in the States who calls me frequently, and I think that says a lot about the friendship we built through exchanging letters the past couple of years. Another friend is always sending wonderful care packages to my boys, which I find to be incredibly kind and thoughtful! There are certain people you meet in life that make you feel like your friendship was simply meant to be!
I look forward to hopefully building life long friendships with all of my penpals... Cheers to all of my friends!! I love you!!
5. What are your favorite topics to discuss in letters?
When it comes to letters, I'm an open book. I love to talk about anything and everything... Where you've been in life, and where you plan on going in the future... Your hopes, dreams... troubles and joys. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone story is worth hearing.
6. What are you looking for in a penpal?
When it comes to penpalling, I like long, chatty letters. I don't want that to scare anyone away... As long as there is a sincere effort with the letter - that's what matters most!
I find it hard to write to people who don't ask (me) any questions. I tend to ask a lot of questions in my letters, and it's nice to receive the same in return. It makes me feel like you really care!
I like letters that have depth... Paragraphs that consist of just a few sentences often don't tell enough, and leave me wanting a little more.
As I stated above - I've been writing letters for many years. I used to just write to anyone - regardless of the connection I felt with them... Now, I'm a little more serious about who I write to... I like to feel a real connection with you, and I hope that you feel the same with me...
Also, I like to write to people that I hear from frequently. I don't expect anyone to write back the day they receive my letter (although that would be super awesome!)... But within a few days, or a week would be ideal... I don't like getting letters 3 times a year. It's difficult to build a friendship that way.
7. What do you like the most about penpalling?
My favorite thing about penpalling is, of course, the friendships that I've been fortunate enough to make... simply from pen & paper. My penpals are my true friends. We write to each other about anything and everything, and I truly care about them... and know they care about me as well. I can definitely say that I've met a few of my best friends through writing letters!
8. In what language(s) do you correspond?
I only correspond in English. I studied French in high school, but it's been 9 years since I graduated, so... I don't really remember much!
9. What are some of your habits in regards to letter writing?
I write my letters all over... My absolute favorite place to write is at a park. I love watching my son play, while I sit on a blanket and write. I also write letters on my couch, kitchen table, desk... On the floor in my son's room... Pretty much anywhere!
I have a nice collection of stationary (thanks to Janetstore.com). I LOVE stationary, glitter, stickers, etc.
I used to be able to write back to letters the day I received a letter. In fact, I almost always did that... Since I became a mom, writing back the day I receive a letter has become a little more difficult. I get mad at myself sometimes, because I'm not able to write back as soon as I used to. Sometimes I am still able to reply the day I get a letter... But other times it might take me a week or so. I know it's nice to get fast replies, and I do my best to reply as soon as I can.
My handwriting... Although it tends to change on a daily basis! Hehe. As you can see, I love colorful things!
10. Has anything strange/funny ever happened to you since you've been penpalling?
Hm... I've been thinking about the answer to this question all day! I'm SURE some strange things have happened to me, but I can't think of any...
One time, I received a letter from a very close friend of mine. In the letter, she told me that her boyfriend killed someone. I remember feeling frozen in that moment. I sent her many letters after that, and even tried to reach her by phone, but I never heard from her again. The last time I heard from her was 11 years ago. It's strange, but I still miss her. I hope that she's okay.
11. Have you met any of your penpals?
I have! As I mentioned above, my grandma took me to meet my friend in Michigan. My parents took me to meet a friend in Minnesota... I've met my fellow Wisconsin chicas... Although most prefer to stay in touch via the Internet now...
2005 was a lucky year for me, because I met Sherri (from Ohio) and Lora (from Minnesota)... I was able to find a picture of Sherri and me - I had to use my camera to take a picture of it, because my scanner is no longer hooked up. Sorry for the bad quality!
In 2005, my penpal from Ohio came to visit me. We had such a good time! (Me, left... My penpal, right.)
12. Are you currently looking for more penpals?
Yesiree! However, September was a busy month for me (two weddings, a dedication and a surprise birthday party) so I fell a bit behind. I hate being behind - it makes me feel like a bad friend. My life is usually NEVER very busy. Anyway!! I don't have many penpals from the USA / Canada / Mexico so if you would like to write to me, please send me a message. I have a decent amount of foreign pals right now, but if you feel like we'd be good friends, please send me a message and let me know. I'd love to hear from anyone! Females only!!! I'm pretty flexible with age, but the majority of my friends are between 23 and 36. Also, I don't do "email" penpalling.
If you would like to contact me, my contact information is raefabulous (at) gmail (dot) com OR feel free to view my Interpals page.
Thank you, Julie, for taking time to share my interview!
Well thank YOU, Ashley, for taking time to answer my questions! :)
People who are interested in being featured on my blog as Penpal of the Week can reply to this post and leave me their email address!