Ashley Mersereau

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Welcome to More Than Lyme's third feature! This weeks theme is... A YOU DAY.

Meet Ashley. With a strong will and undeniable need for adventure, Ashley will always be seeking new and never before seen places--but it's her roots on the Oregon Coast that have made her who she is today, an ambitious girl who won't let Lyme pull her away from the places that give her so much life. Most importantly, no matter how far she travels, or all the amazing places she sees--the salty air and crashing waves will always be calling her home.

Q: On a day all to yourself--what is your favorite way to wake up? (Coffee/tea in bed, a walk, yoga etc)

Ashley: I love waking up at home and going for a beach walk first thing:  getting outside for some exercise and spending time near the ocean sets a great tone for the day.  Then, when I get home I make myself a cup of tea and some breakfast and sit on the deck in the sun, reading a book and enjoying my time alone.

Q: What are your favorite snacks/food items to bring along on a solo adventure? Or do you stop at a favorite place before to pick up a smoothie or lunch to go?

Ashley: It depends on what kind of adventure it is, but I usually bring a Lara bar, as well as some fruit, maybe some trail mix or other salty snacks.  If it's going to be a long day I'll go to our local bakery/deli Bread & Ocean and pick up a sandwich for the road!

Q: What kind of places intrigue you/motivate you--that inspire you to adventure. Somewhere you'd want to hang out at for an afternoon. (Maybe pick a place or a couple places around your home that you love to explore or just visit frequently.)

Ashley: Going to the beach/ocean never fails to inspire me and push the reset button.  Growing up on the Oregon coast I learned to surf in our cold waters when I was a kid, and while I'm not a great surfer, I love the beauty, magic, and humbling quality of bobbing around in such a powerful, vast body of water.  There's also a river near my home that I have spent many a sunny summer day at, swimming, reading and lounging with friends.  And finally, I am always intrigued by new places, so traveling around in our van always brings a smile to my face and motivates me to get out there and explore this big world of ours (that one's kind of a cop-out since it's not one place, but it's true!)

"Look deep into nature

and

You will understand

Everything better"

-Albert Einstein

Q: Lastly, on this day--are you constantly aware of your Lyme (and all that goes along with it) Does it find a way to creep into your day--make you feel or think differently? If so how best do you overcome that feeling and push through?

Ashley: What a great question! These days I'm in a pretty good place with my Lyme treatment, so I wouldn't say that I'm constantly aware of it, but there's usually some point in the day where it rears its ugly head.  One of my more challenging symptoms is severe arthritis and joint pain in my feet and ankles, which means that when it's flaring up I am literally reminded of my Lyme with every single step (I'm sure there's something to be learned there but I'm not sure yet what it is:).  When I start feeling frustrated or upset about all of the challenges that come with having Lyme I cope in a number of ways:  I try to think about how far I've come, and how much worse it's been in the past.  Remembering that there was a time not so long ago when I could barely walk from the bedroom to the bathroom reminds me to be grateful for the things my body can do today (like hiking, biking, yoga, or just walking around town).  Sometimes though I've found that it just helps to give into those feelings for a moment, to share my frustrations and fears and sadness with someone I love and trust, and to even cry about it if that's what I need to do.  Having Lyme has taught me to be more vulnerable and honest with the people in my life and to share the hard, sad, challenging things as well as the happy ones.  I'm still working on that one though, and I'm sure I will be for the rest of my life.  It also helps to remind myself that I will get better, and to take it day-by-day and moment-by-moment.

Continue to follow Ashley's Story (@Ashleymersereau) as she travels across the Western United States in #EddyTheVan with Justin Bailie (@justin_bailie) Also, join in on the adventure through stunning photographs on Justin's website at justinbailie.com! (Featured image credit goes to Justin Bailie, who it seems is always able to catch Ashley in her element.)