Thursday, January 26, 2012

Better Not Bitter

My nephew Ashton was born when I was 18. I have loved this kid for all of my life. He unfortunately has had a very trying life.  Not just one, but both of his parents are addicted and have been for the majority of his life.  He lived with his grandmother for most of his life, whom I must say, is one of the best human beings to ever walk the face of this earth. 

When he was 12, Dave and I made the decision to take him in. It was great for the first year and a half and then things became fairly difficult. After 2.5 years, we collectively decided to graciously part ways and he moved back to Tahoe. 

I have always respected Ashton, but it wasn't until I suffered my very own tragedy that my admiration was pushed into another realm.

I am his aunt. I have taught him numerous things about life, living, manners, everything, but by example, he has shown me the world. Although he has struggled much of his life, living on very little, and in small spaces, and most importantly without either parent present in his life ~ he is the definition of better not bitter.

Ashton never looks at what he didn't have, or what his parents didn't do for him. He looks at the positive and all the blessings in his life. He doesn't dwell or use excuses. One thing I really need to learn from him is how not to re-visit the past so much. For me it is a fine line of missing and honoring Aviana as she was, while still staying in the present moment. 

His heart is big. He radiates goodness. He is warm, loving, polite, positive and just plain good. I watch as he avoids the wrong, and carefully chooses the right path. 

Ashton made it on the Santa Barbara City College team last year, but has decided to instead fly to Portugal to pursue his dreams of professional soccer. He has been staying with us and will be until he leaves the country. He is an inspiration to me in so many ways, and I am forever grateful for all he continues to show me ~ to teach me.

This is a kid who has never been out of the country, and has also never lived on his own. He is so courageous to soon to be landing in a foreign country to follow his passion. Wow! I'm so impressed! Whether he makes it onto the team, or not, I have the highest admiration for him for trying. I am confident in the fact that he will succeed greatly in life.

Attitude is everything and he's got a great one, so I know he will go far.

I am going to miss him when he leaves, but will be cheering him on as he embarks on his journey.

He's going to kill me for putting these pictures up, but this was him right when he moved in with us.

Oh my...he's going to give me the business on this one : )

This is where his love of soccer began.

This picture makes me laugh.

These make me cry.

I love him. 

Here's the story. He was holding Aviana and I wanted to get a picture of them. I ran and grabbed my camera, got into position and told him to smile. He said, "Uhhh Jen...I feel something way warm, I think Avi just peed." I picked her up and his jeans and the couch were soaking wet. I had to get the picture so I asked him to sit still and put her back on his lap as I snapped a few. 

His face says it all : )


  1. Ha! That last picture! Too funny! His face totally says it all.
    What a handsome boy with a bright future ahead of him. Glad you will have this time with him before he leaves -- wow, keep us posted on his soccer career!

  2. he is a GOOD SPORT!!!! lol poor guy! ;)

    i must say
    his story is bold.
    his desire is deep.
    his vision is strong.

    and .... like his shirt says. JUST DO IT!

    you have every right to be proud of him and boast of his accomplishments! wish him well and godspeed for me.

  3. I LOVE THIS MAN CHILD! I remember when he first came to live with you so because of him, I got to meet the Hodder family and find out how wonderful you all are! He is such an inspiration and I am so happy for him (although I bit nervous that he is going to live in a foreign country away from his family but that's what moms do, they worry). I hear the Portuguese are pretty good peeps, at least that's what my mom says ;^)

    Good luck Ashton, you are an amazing young man and I have no doubt that you will be successful in whatever you do! I look forward to following your progress on FB and getting updates from your aunt and uncle.

    Love to you all ♥

  4. What a cute guy! You should be proud of him and I hope he's proud of himself. I know far too many kids who've had a similar life and haven't made the choice he has. I hope he has a very bright and successful career and a happy life!

    I love the pic, too!


  5. what a handsome, inspiring young man. if karma has anything to say about it, i bet he meets great success :)

  6. I've been waiting for this post, your Better, Not Bitter post. I knew you would get there and I'm so glad you are. Of course I want him to make it in Portugal, you know what a soft spot I have for soccer. Maybe we'll see him in the World Cup in a few years!!!

  7. Ashton~ First of all, you are a very inspiring soul. Amazing things are in store for you! Go out there live life to its fullest! Good luck with your soccer career! Second of all, you must be the sweetest guy in the world to sit there with pee on your leg for your wacky Aunt Jen. :)

    Amazing photos too!!

  8. What a good cousin! Best of luck in Portugal Ashton! :)

  9. How awesome! Keep us posted on how he does in Portugal! I wish my 19 year old son had the drive to look at what he was given and not what was taken away from him.