Interviews with purpose-driven business leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Ashley Kesner, and I am a sober millennial mom, maniac mental health blogger and advocate, podcast host, and Founder/Owner of Free Your Ghost, where I am your favorite not-so-serious recovery coach. My mission is pretty simple, and that’s to spark curiosity for a better tomorrow with those who may be struggling today.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I’m going to be honest here – my story is a bit of a unique one. After struggling for the majority of my life with alcohol use, depression, an eating disorder, self-harm, and surviving a suicide attempt, I started a blog – GHOST IN MY BEDROOM – in order to keep myself accountable to my sobriety after failing so many times on my own. Needless to say, it worked! I never could have imagined the impact my ‘cynical, not clinical’ voice would have, not only helping me find myself but thousands along the way.
Because of that vulnerability, I have discovered my voice and purpose – to turn my mess into a message – and help others struggling with the same ghosts that once haunted me.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
As I have struggled with mental illness and addiction for the majority of my life, it’s important for me to advocate change in the recovery community and with those who may not be affected, in order to eliminate the stigma that is still prevalent. In my opinion, this recovery stuff is just too serious and is why I take a humorous approach. (That’s just my voice, too – I am a cynical person by nature.) This helps me relate to people on a more personal level to prove that we are not our pain, not our diagnosis, and anything we have to go through today – it doesn’t matter! There is always hope for a better tomorrow. I know that because I am living proof.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
From finding myself and choosing to be vulnerable about my story, it has blown the doors open in terms of advocating and for the purposes of my career. Within a year, my blog has been read by more than 33,000 people, with a little over 21,000 followers across social media. It is extremely humbling, but it is also proof that when we get real about what we are dealing with, it enables others to do the same. Within a year, I’ve helped more than 40 people start their next chapter to a better self… and those are just who I know about!
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
For starters, I do! I couldn’t have done this without… me! Since I have chosen myself and found my happiness, my success is purely driven now by the success of others. I am constantly inspired and motivated to connect with others, meet them where they are, and see that spark in their eye when they gain confidence in themselves to take their next step into a better tomorrow.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
My vision really is to just create a safe space for those who may be struggling and to eventually expand my company to include many recovery coaches who share my perspective – love always wins! I think it’s important to continually be a reflection of the change I would like to see in the world, and that’s one with more acceptance, more compassion, and more vulnerability when it comes to tough topics. We’re just a bunch of humans walking around trying to do our best, and I have seen firsthand how awesome it is to let your guard down and live authentically as yourself. If I can have a hand in making others comfortable enough to do the same, my heart will continually be full. I think that’s what it’s all about – respecting others, tapping into their passions, and working together to make this world a better place to live.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
Honestly, I don’t have many challenges at this juncture, other than… you know… the whole irrational brain thing, as I am diagnosed with depression. But, I have gained a heightened self-awareness about that – I don’t struggle with it because I know it’s not who I am. I’ve actually gotten quite good at it. Other than that, financially it has been a bit of a challenge because I am a single mother building my vision from scratch and with very little money. However, I believe that was meant to be the case for a reason and to gain an appreciation for what I do have, as well as to understand the importance of giving back. I trust in the timing of my life, and therefore, I keep working towards what I want to see with what I currently have available to me.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
You matter. No matter where you are in your story or what you are faced with today, it doesn’t define you. YOU define you. It’s not my job to write the next chapter for you, but what I’m a badass with is giving you the power to hold the pen, and to the best of my ability, I will always do that without judgment. And that’s mainly because I have been there myself.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
“Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.” Lily Tomlin
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
My personal story/blog that I started on Day 1 of my recovery, as well as, all of my social links, merchandise line, and coaching/course information is available at freeyourghost.com. Come on down to our mental health circus! We’d love to have you.
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