How I Thrive: Ashley Laurens Music Founder Ashley-Lauren Elrod

How I Thrive takes an inside look at founders, entrepreneurs and leaders and the behind-the-scenes self-care work they do to in order to live balanced, happy lives. Today's edition is with Ashley Laurens Music founder Ashley-Lauren Elrod, who has an excellent use for used coffee grounds and throws herself workday dance parties.

Name: Ashley-Lauren Elrod

Age: 31

City: Brooklyn, New York

Company: Ashley Laurens Music, a company that helps bring healing and awareness to fellow child abuse warriors through music, counseling, and fundraising.

Role: Survivor speaker, board member, singer-songwriter

Beyond the role: 

I'm a dancer and actress who loves teaching others. I'm a small productions company owner of Visionary Woman Productions, helping visions come to life through performance and design. You can find me on my off days either playing volleyball, horse-back riding, hiking, and being surrounded by the ones I love.

Morning routine:

My morning routine can look different day to day depending on events, auditions, meetings, and all of that jazz. On a consistent and planned morning, I wake up at 6:00 a.m., get out of bed, and stretch. I get myself grounded in my mind, spirit, and body to go through my meditation and prayer, which I use the Abide app for. Once I've gone through my 15 minutes, I usually put on a soothing worship song and just sit to be in that moment with God. It's an intimate time to share my heart, and be refilled before I start helping to take people through their healing throughout the day.

Around 8 a.m. it's workout time in which I do crossfit with my WillyB fam, dance class with my DivaDance Tribe, or a 305 Fitness class. I get my heart rate up, body fully engaged, and it helps overall with my mental and spiritual wellbeing.

I then make my coffee, pressed, along with an egg white and salmon omelette and fruit to enjoy before getting ready for my day. I'll take a shower, and go through my face routine which is usually a big part of my self-care. I use a variety of natural oils such as orange and peppermint with a dab of my sea salt from Lush Cosmetics to exfoliate, soften, and brighten which I love to take my time with. I'll do quick steam treatments with a hot towel some days, or throw on a Peach Slices charcoal mask, and then I'll moisturizer and massage with my jade roller which I keep in the freezer and use on my face every morning. Trust me, it's a game-changer! It gets the circulation flowing, clears up any under-eye baggage, and energizes you for the day.

Makeup is not a thing right now due to working from home, but usually I keep it natural with mascara, a dab of blush, and my favorite Fenty highlighter! My hair is no-fuss right now in braids, so that cuts down on time, and I end my routine by slipping on something comfy yet chic to hop on Zoom meetings in. Usually that's one of my cute jumpers from Express!

The first thing I do after work: 

The first thing I do after work is breathe. Usually, I end my days on a heavy note if I was counseling someone, working on a production, or brainstorming on how to make a sensitive subject more relevant for people to take action. I just like to be still and not think. Whether that's putting on some of my favorite tunes, such as good Luther Vandross track, drawing, painting, or writing a new song. Whatever it is, I make it creative. I need to just flow without a destination. It's the best feeling.

Dinner ritual: 

 Once I have my moment, around 7:30 I go into super self-care mode, which for me is cooking! I love to prep and cook a good meal while listening to music. My go-to's would be a teriyak-dipped salmon, a sweet potato, spinach and pesto combo, along with a quinoa and brown rice mix. I honestly bask in the enjoyment of being able to be in my own place as a single gal in a city like New York, cooking a decadent meal for myself. I pair that with a glass of sweet red, and I'm in heaven! I have such an appreciation for my life even the more since everything that has transpired in our world, so I really soak in moments like cooking. 

Nighttime routine: 

If I'm not completely exhausted, I usually end my day with a mini ice and oil facial. That looks a lot like exfoliating my skin with a touch of coffee grinds from the morning french press, which I keep in the fridge, and a dab of olive oil. I mix both together in a small bowl and then gently glide onto my face and neck in long circular motions. Once I'm done with that, I massage my face with an ice cube which is amazing for releasing toxins and tension. I then dab a small size of rose toner on, and I'm ready to settle.

I'll end my day with prayer and meditation through the Abide app once again, and allow my mind to be still with no distractions. I practice a few deep breathing techniques to calm my body and in this time ask for my heart to be refilled and cleansed from the day so I may be able to show up tomorrow. That time is my time to be as conscious as possible of who I am and who I believe God is, and it always helps me to journal next steps, confirmations, and things to work on in my life in order to better serve others. Lastly, I'll drop a few drops of lavender and sage oil in my hands to slowly breathe in, which is the most calming thing to wrap up my night.

Self-care guilty pleasure:

My self-care guilty pleasure is watching one of my old favorite shows, "One Tree Hill." I grew up with the show when it first launched in high school and it's just always stuck with me! I'm a die-hard fan who feels like she's best friends with the actors because we're about the same age and that show impacted my life in many ways. They made it relatable and pushed boundaries in a good way that didn't get too ridiculously cheesy or toxic to watch.

Workday self-care hack: 

I take dance breaks, seriously. I will throw on an old '90s or early 2000s song like Lifehouse's "Hanging by a Moment" and lose it! No cares, no perfection, just me and the music. It's the most fun and energizing thing one can do in between their days of talking to people on Zoom! I highly suggest it. We must take time to play and connect with that inner child so we don't lose who we truly are in such a jaded world.

How do you define self-care?

Self-care to me is a divine moment one takes to truly connect with their soul. Whether that looks like mediation, writing, painting or swimming, it's a practice that re-centers you to propel forward. It keeps you grounded, focused, and present in the moment at hand in the midst of a world that is always spinning.

Favorite childhood toy or hobby: 

My favorite childhood hobby, which actually led me to train for the Olympics at one point was equestrian riding. I was a competitive hunter-jumper. I absolutely loved and still love it! Horses saved my life in a big way kept me going when I was dealing with the trauma of abuse and also hiding it from my family.

Horses are these majestic, healing beings that just connect with your soul and I truly connected with the horses I had in my life. Especially my spunky and crazy Appaloosa named Justin. The training really has influenced my life from my posture to keeping my head up. It gave me such an unspeakable confidence as a kid and adult, because when you can trust yourself and a 200-pound animal to jump over a six-foot fence, you've got to posses real grit. It takes that same grit to get back on that horse after taking several bad falls. It cannot be faked in any way, because if you try to fake it you literally can injure yourself or worse. It's principles of care for yourself, your team, and your animal has always stuck with me, because my trainers were big on that.

The principle of letting go and trusting has also influenced my life as an adult in every situation, because it's a similar principle with God. A lot of people can't trust in what they don't understand and haven't had a connection with, but from a younger age I was always the girl on the opposite side of the spectrum. Riding has taught me I'm more powerful, graceful, and honest than I give myself credit for, and has helped me remember I'm a tough chick who will always get back up even after the most dangerous of falls.

State of your (email) inbox: 

I am very serious about my inbox, ha! I keep it very organized, color coded, and as clean as possible. I go through it every day so I'm not looking at 10,000 emails, which I'm embarrassed to say has happened in the past.

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Illustration by Megan Behrendt

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