We sometimes take for granted what we have and live our life in fear of tomorrow. But if you are a person who understands life’s uncertainties, you want to make the most out of every moment of your life. Mentor, life coach, psychologist and modern-day philosopher Ashley Berges was born with a condition that nobody understood. She spent most of her childhood in the hospital, limited in doing what a normal person does. But this did not stop her from being hopeful. Ashley shares the story of how she came out of the shell and made a difference not only in her life but in the life of people she empowers.
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Ashley Berges Living Life
Ashley Berges Living Life On Her Terms
I have somebody that I have a lot of respect for and love dearly, Ashley Berges. She’s the producer and the host of The Celebrity Perspective on Amazon Prime and a nationally syndicated talk show host for Live Your True Life Perspectives. A video columnist for The Good Men Project and a writer for STREETZine, the newspaper that helps homeless men and women. She’s a mentor, life coach, psychologist and a modern-day philosopher. She has dedicated her life to empowering men, women and children to seek, understand and ultimately choose to live their true life. Welcome, Ashley. It’s great to have you on the show.
I’m so glad to be on your show, Art. How are you doing?
I’m doing great. One of the things that I always admire about you so much is that you want to help everybody. You don’t just focus on men or women, but men, women and children, which to me is really special when you want to encompass everybody.
Everybody matters. A lot of times people do pick a cross section, age, demographic or specific sex. I want to help everyone. All of that stuff doesn’t matter.
We have that in common. Can you tell us about where you grew up and how you got started? What your childhood was like and what kind of hurdles you had to hurdle over to get here?
My childhood was pretty good like anybody else’s childhood to some degree. I was born with a condition that nobody understood. I was in the hospital as a kid. I’m talking about the beginning, but there was no beginning. I was in the hospital 300 plus days out of the year and it got bad. My parents didn’t have a lot of money but they were able to get a doctor that could come to the house. My first six years of life was going from the house to the hospital to the hospital to the house. Eventually, I seem to get a little healthier. My whole life was different and I always wanted to be like everybody else. When you’re a kid, all you want to do is just fit in.
I don’t want to say anything that’s stupid. I don’t want to look different. I definitely don’t want to sound different. I didn’t get that wish and I wanted to be like every other kid. It’s normal. That wasn’t in the cards. I went through childhood and I had a lot of pain. I did athletics and I did stuff as other kids do and I was in choir and trying to impress my mom like some kids do because my mom was a singer. Long story short, I got through high school and toward the end of my high school, I had several surgeries that I almost died on the operating table. I thought they were operating on something different. It’s nothing like making the decision on what something is before doing the scan or the MRI to know what it is.
I went there and went through that and then went through many scans and many doctors and eventually at the age of 22, I was finally diagnosed. My life was very interesting because you never knew. I was sick all the time. I was going to the hospital. I never knew what’s going to happen. You never know if you’re going to be around tomorrow. Your relationships with people are extremely different because you don’t know. Most of us take for granted the fact that we’re going to hang out with somebody. We’re going to see him now, we’re going to see him tomorrow. We’re going to see him the next day and we’re going to be exhausted from seeing this person. I never felt that way because I didn’t know what my time was on this planet. I finally went to a doctor and they finally figured all this out. They were going to do a surgery on me that was the first of its kind. They were going to do it where the doctors would watch the surgery procedure being done. There are going to be various doctors, vascular surgeons, plastic surgeons and they were going to cut this condition that I have out.
About two weeks after agreeing to that and signing some documents, I was called into the hospital from the chief of staff’s office who was going to be in charge of the surgery. I never got to see him again, but I remember walking in and the front desk lady and the nurse said, “Could you come in here?” I walked to the back. I went into one of the examining rooms. I closed the door and they handed me a file, the patient file and they said, “Here you go.” I said, “Here I go? What am I going to do with that?” They go, “We’re not allowed to do the surgery. It’s been deemed a bloodbath as you can see on page two in the top of this. 90% chance of your left leg being amputated and about 45% to 50% chance of your death on the table. We will no longer be interested in doing the surgery. We wish you a good day,” and I was shown the door. I was with my mom. My mom drove me over there because I didn’t have a license yet. It’s a very interesting dynamics. That was in high school and then you finally get to the twenties and you go through this whole process and you’re still looking for somebody that can help you. Somebody that can give you some idea of what you need to do. I had a handicap sticker on my car. I couldn’t walk that far. Athletics was a thing of the past. I’ve found a doctor up in Colorado and it was a random happenstance. My boyfriend at the time was on a flight. He met a doctor there that was working with vascular malformations.
I have a venous lymphatic malformation. The doctor was very happy to see me. It’s almost like I’m a specimen. I went in there and I found out that I was one out of 180 people at the time that they had diagnosed in the world with this condition. I went down this path with him of these experimental surgeries. After the second one and being in a wheelchair and causing thrombosis throughout my entire body. Not being able to move one time and having to go to the hospital because I was in bed sleeping, I wake up and I am incapacitated where I could not move. That was a fun time going to Mount Sinai for a week. I finally realized it was time to take my life back. I’ve never been in charge of my life. It seemed like I was always giving my power up to all these other people, these doctors, these people or anybody that could give me information. I realized they knew about as much as I do. That’s when I realized I could learn my body, I could figure it out, I could take it into my own hands and that’s what I did. Several months later, my general practitioner called me and said, “Your handicap sticker is about to go out. By the way, you should get a permanent one.”We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. Are you willing to do that? Click To Tweet
This every year crap was getting on my nerves. I got to sign a document. I got to give it to you. I said, “Dr. Gordon, I’ve got a plan. Why don’t we do it one more year?” He goes, “Just get the permanent one.” I said, “No, I’m not getting a permanent handicap sticker.” I went down to the department you have to go to and I got my one year. It’s a red tag. It was a one-year tag. It’s a placard you stick on the rearview mirror. I told myself I got one year to figure this out. By the end of that year, I had started working out as much as I could. I hired a personal trainer to help me build my muscle and I created a diet that I researched through my blood type and everything else that would be the best for me. I tried to figure out how to basically live healthy with the condition that I have and I was successful. I figured it out. That’s the story. I got to basically do the life that people do but it’s the other side of the time. Normally, people are doing what I did. It happens in their 60s or 70s or even their 80s. It doesn’t happen in elementary school, middle school, high school or college. I got to do the flip flop. It’s a very different experience.
You’re doing life in reverse. You’re getting younger.
It’s interesting and it is going the opposite direction but to some degree maybe I chose this. It is pretty powerful.
I think it’s powerful. What I find interesting is the more people I interview and listen to, it seems like when they have traumatic events early on in life, they learn behaviors that they carry on into their future life. They become very aware of their choice and their decisions and how they make them. When I was nine and I was in my trauma with my life but it was mental, being abandoned and trying to figure out where I was going and all that. Then at seventeen being in Vietnam and trying to figure out how to survive all that. I learned the things that I use now more than I ever used before. My expectations are totally different from that point. My choices have evolved into being better choices because I just want to live and have a better life. I’m not as focused on fun. I like to have fun for sure but I’m not as focused on it. I see a bigger picture of the world. My world view is bigger. Do you think that was true with you too?
Yeah, I resonate with everything you’re saying. You’ve been through hell back in your life and I respect it, and I admire you. I agree with you on the fun thing. The fun thing is a very interesting dynamic because it’s the definition of what fun is. Fun to a lot of people is going out and just tying one on and doing the same thing the next night and the next night. That’s not that fun for me because I believe you and I feel that way because we realized the value of our life. We realized the value of the time that we have. Why would you want to repeat the same thing? Rinse and repeat day-after-day? I don’t care what it is. I love swimming with dolphins, but if you were swimming with dolphins every single day, how would it be?
I love dolphins but the reverse opposite of sitting at the bar with people every single night is the same thing. Who wants to do that? You got so many options. Another thing too is why would I want to sit and watch TV hours and hours and watch other people live their lives? If you’re looking to reality shows. I’m going to sit there and watch other people live their life because apparently, their lives are so much more important than mine? It defines what our fun is. You and I have the same connection of fun. Fun is accomplishing things. Fun is helping people. Fun is being honest and contributing. Fun is being around with people that understand our value and we understand theirs. That’s what I think is fun.
I had an epiphany when you were talking about values because that is such a profound truth that it does change your values when you go through things. You cherish your life more and you want to live it and you don’t want to get caught in the mundane things of every day watching TV, going to the bar, going out dancing or whatever. It’s not that you don’t occasionally want to do that. You just don’t want it to be what defines your life. What kind of epiphany have you had on this journey that you’ve had? I know that we don’t want to go into everyone epiphany that you’ve had. Have you had any major epiphanies in your journey through life?
I have epiphanies in every single day of my life. Now, I had about seven. The first one that I had, which some of them are new, some of them are a conjecture and some of them are a combination of something that build upon something. It was about 7:00 in the morning and I have a family member that’s going through some challenges. They had been beating themselves up over these challenges and it’s a work challenge. It was interesting because I’ve seen a few things happening in the past. I understand that they feel like they’re lesser then because of something that hasn’t happened, if that makes sense. I sent the text to my family member and this was an epiphany that happened.
I said, “We have tremendous power when we begin to look at our situations with and from an angle of creation instead of happening to us, perhaps we will quickly see the lesson, understand the knowledge and move past it. I’m imparting this knowledge to you and into my challenges as well. Have a great day.” That was the epiphany I had. It’s all going every day all day. The only time I don’t get epiphanies is when I’m asking for it. It’s like when you’re single looking for a date. It’s like, “Why can’t I just meet a good guy?” It’s like all the losers, I hate to say that but it’s the same thing with the epiphany. You could get this amazing download. It’s like, “That was profound.” You get another one and then you started getting greedy, “I want another one,” and it’s like, “No, you’re not.”
What my belief is that epiphanies are the precursor to expectations because it’s our subconscious telling us what we should be doing. That’s what moves us into expectation and action and that’s when things start to happen when you take action because you get caught in the mundane. Everybody gets seems like it. It’s prevalent nowadays that people don’t want to go out and do things. They want to be like robots and methodical about everything that they do and they get upset if something turns over the apple cart. You’re right, you and I probably can’t live like that. It just doesn’t work for us. Imagine if we had a whole world of people doing stuff. A lot of times I tell people it doesn’t matter what you do, go do something please. When I talk to high school kids, I always end up with, “Become a doer. Go out and do things and then go make doo-doo all over the Earth.” They start laughing but I hear back from them and I hear them say, “I always remember it because of that ending.”When you realize the value of your life, you realize the value of the time you have. Click To Tweet
When people say that, “You go doo-doo or whatever,” it’s so funny. You do what you do. I’ll remember that forever.
What separates us all is the doers and the non-doers and we just need more doers in the world.
I feel like a lot of folks are scared to do things. What if they fail? That’s another thing that we want to talk about at some point in our society now is the fact that I don’t think failure is doing. I think there’s a big difference. I have a different thought process about what I define failure is. Most people say failure is I did something and I screwed up and it didn’t work and I failed. Failure to me is if I didn’t do anything. I didn’t want to because I’m scared. That to me is failure. The fact that something doesn’t work out the way that you expected to is not failure. That’s more like that happened.
That’s knowledge. In my book, I talked about that as learning. That’s how I learn best. If I go out and do things and the reward isn’t there that I was looking for. The results weren’t there that I was looking for, I always look and say to it, “What did I learn by that and how can I use that knowledge to increase my capabilities in this world?” For me, nothing I have ever tried and done has been a failure because everything is a learning experience for me. I didn’t podcast before. I had to figure it out pretty much on my own and all that. I wasn’t a writer before. Even though in college I had to write papers and stuff like that, I’m not a writer but I had to figure it out as I go. If I would have let fear stop me, I would have done nothing. I’d be still sitting out at the ranch and drinking beer and be in an old geezer just like a bunch of people that I know. The thing is I don’t want anyone else to live like that but yet I see them doing it. It’s not good.
Let’s talk a little bit about fear. Our expectations are viewed through two lenses, either faith or fear. Fear stops everything, but faith is what drives us going through. It’s not necessarily religious faith, though I think that is strong and good and probably for a lot of people, it’s the greatest faith. You can have faith in yourself. You can have faith in a coach and a therapist. You can have faith in your mom and dad, but the paramount is having faith in yourself and knowing that no matter what you do, everything is always going to work out the way that it was meant to be. If you stop and let fear kill your dreams and your desires, I always talk about wants, needs and desires. If we let fear kill our wants, needs and desires, we’re going to live the most miserable life you could ever want to live. Do you want to expound on it? Any thoughts you have about that?
There is only faith, love and fear. Love and faith are connected on that deal. Fear to me is empty. It’s always been very empty. It’s like guilt’s cousin. That’s the key. The thing is that they’re both empty. When we have guilt, what do we do? We go into shame. We stop doing anything. We totally downplay our life. We can’t move. We can’t act. When we have fear. What do we do? We power down. We’re too scared to do anything. You can’t act and you can’t do anything. It’s like to me, both of them are empty. If you look through both of them, there’s nothing there. It’s all smoke screen and mirrors. When I was ill, my whole life basically and now I’ve gotten it under control and I don’t consider myself ill anymore, there was that fear always. A constant fear, but then I realized there was nothing there. There’s fear that you’re going to die. There’s fear that this or that is going to happen. At the same time, a lot of the stuff we fear normally is small stuff.
It doesn’t make any sense like we fear not getting something or we fear somebody not being our friend or we fear not getting the pay raise or whatever we’re fearing. We fear not getting heard. Fear is just our mind and I’m not downplaying our mind, but our mind is trying to hold us back from whatever it is. If you keep somebody in consistent fear, they’re not going to do anything. You’re too scared. What are you going to do? They’re empty emotions. I think that faith and love and there’s no cornerstone on any religion here. I’ve read every Bible there is it seems like. I know I’ve read it and do my due diligence on every religion on this planet pretty much. They all have good points. There’s a way that you could combine them all. I can take good points of that. If you look at spirituality or connectivity to a God, the God, your God within you, that’s powerful.
If you could connect with that on a daily basis, in a moment-to-moment basis, in minute-to-minute, the fear begins to alleviate because you begin to realize you’re part of the connectivity. You’re not just some random person. Everybody makes things work. Everybody is an integral part of something. We’re all connected. There is no degree of separation. I don’t do this Ancestry.com thing. I’m not giving them my saliva to go check that out so that Pfizer can get another $100 billion deal, come on. The deal was that everybody’s related to everybody. Didn’t they say that George W. Bush is related to George Washington? There’s a reason why everybody’s related. We’re all connected. When we begin to see that we have power within and faith, we have faith not only in a higher being, an all-encompassing God, I guess you could say. Some people agree with that text, other people don’t but it’s something bigger than yourself. Then also you’ve got to find the thing within you. Because if you believe in something like that, then there’s got to be something within you, that should be able to process that. That to me is what I consider faith and unconditional love, the connectivity to all things.
My belief is that the seed of expectation was planted in every man, woman and child because our expectations aren’t prejudiced. They’re ours and it’s the one thing in our psyche that we can totally have control of that no one else can take away from us. It’s our expectations. When you let that fear take over your expectations and you view it through that lens, it’s tilted so bad that it affects your confidence. Your whole view becomes totally skewed. When you look through faith and you have faith in all the different sources we’ve talked about, it really drives you. It’s what drove me when I lost my wife to cancer in 2006.
For three years, I went into doing things I had never done and not thinking that my world had ended. When my kids came to me and said, “Dad, you promised mom you weren’t going to do this.” I went out on the lawn and laid down at 2:00 in the morning and looked into the universe and said, “God, what’s going to become of me?” Just like I did when I was nine years old and I heard him say, “I’ve given you all the tools. You need to use them.” That’s how I got the inspiration to write Expectation Therapy. I got up and I started writing. When I look back on my life, I realized that to every single event that I’ve been through, whether it be joyous, whether it be tragic, whether it be mediocre, my expectations always were that everything is going to be okay no matter what. I’ve taught my children that.Failure is not doing anything because you're scared. Click To Tweet
There’s such a relief in it. It takes away the anxiety. I don’t worry about stuff because I know that no matter what, everything’s going to be okay. No matter what I do. I don’t do stupid things. I don’t go out and purposely do stupid things and say it’s going to be okay because I say it’s going to be okay. I lived my life with that thought in there and it brings out my creativity. I find that now, in my what would be called senior years, I’m more creative, more prolific in writing, more prolific in thinking and much different than I spent the first 60 years of my life. It’s really different. We make choices. The power of choice is so powerful in our lives. It controls so much that when we have faith and live it, good things can happen.
I also feel when people get into the fear mode, they get into the victim road. It’s not like I can do things. It’s like if you get into the mode of things are happening to me. When you start going down that road, that’s when you feel like you don’t have any power. You lose control and then it starts compounding throughout parts of your life. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How about people with anxiety? Where do you think anxiety lies?
In the mind.
How does it work in our mind?
Anxiety is a vehicle for fear and I believe that we can create it because I know that if you can stop it on your own then we have to be able to create it. It’s not like it’s happening at us. It’s not like the anxiety fairy starts going, “Ding-ding-ding, you get anxiety.” I know that people out there think it’s happening at them. I didn’t want to go through a full scientific brain rundown on what happens, but if we can stop it with certain things because stress and anxiety come from feeling out of control. Stress and anxiety come from something happening that we weren’t expecting. A regimen and a schedule in life and being able to control certain things, if you feel out of control in something you want to do. There are also healthy lifestyle choices that you can make to downplay that anxiety. Anxiety is a robber of people’s joy a lot of times and then the medication that comes after that. I’m not going to downplay whatever. Some people need medication at this point to take care of that. Then all of a sudden, they feel as if they’re strapped into this medication and the medication is the only thing that can stop the anxiety. It’s an interesting effect that we have here. It’s all in our mind. I think we can choose to feel one way.
I’m going to ask us to shift gears here a little bit. I want to get into some personal stuff. Tell us about some of the shows that you’re working on, some of the fun things you’re doing in life to help people.
I have the radio show, Live Your True Life Perspectives and that has been on since May of 2012. We’re in 40 markets right now and when I say we, I mean the proverbial we. We are me, myself and I, that’s three. I do have a producer who’s been with me since 2013. He’s a great guy, Bill. He is a good person. We got that going on and it’s all about finding that happiness, true calling, dealing with relationship issues, borderline personality disorder, dealing with the narcissist in our lives and dealing with the family drama. The stuff that most people need to deal with before we can get to the good stuff because this is the stuff in the way of our life.
The Celebrity Perspective is a little different. The radio show is really consistency. I’ll do a segment like a show about how to survive ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder, but not only how to survive but how to thrive. I’m giving the information. I’m not talking about medication in this situation. I’m talking about things that you can do to alleviate and to work with ADD naturally. It’s not that I’m against medicine, I’m for medicine, just naturally. The TV show is The Celebrity Perspective where I interview celebrities and I asked them some hard-hitting personal questions and it’s cool. In the middle of it, we switch seats on camera and they get the chance to ask me personal questions about me. There are no holds barred and it’s cool. Season one is on Amazon Prime. We are working on season two. I will be traveling out to Los Angeles to meet some folks.
I’ve decided to make a couple of changes to the show, just one change. I’m going to add a round table discussion to that show. That will be season two. The same premise in the very beginning. You have the interview and then you have the switch, which is our hallmark. It’s our cool stand out thing. Nobody else is doing it. We did it first. Usually, I would talk to the audience out for that. That’s going to cut and then we’re going to go into a round table with the celebrity and then at the end, I’ll close out for 60 seconds. It should be cool. There are a lot of perspectives. We are talking about anything from divorce to overcoming trauma to happiness. We all need to connect with everybody and celebrities are no different than us. Celebrities have been objectified for a very long time and we’re all connected. Somebody is dealing with it. Let’s talk to the person that’s dealt with it and come out the other side. A lot of us will connect also with our favorite celebrities and realize that our life is not that much different.
How about The Good Men Project? Are you doing anything with that right now? Do you have time?
I’ve been working with them for years. I create video content for The Good Men Project every week. It started because I got coined The Man Whisperer at one point in time. That’s how we got into The Good Men Project because it’s about empowering men with a different type of empowerment. It’s not about like, “I’m a man.” It’s more like, “I am a man and I am allowed to have feelings. I am allowed to talk about my marriage that’s not working and on raising my children on my own. I’m a single dad. I’m going through this stuff or I’m suffering from mental illness and I’d like to talk about that. I’m allowed to cry.” It’s not that that’s the whole forum, but it’s based on the precedence that men are allowed to have emotions too.
Also, let’s show the other side that we don’t always see. A lot of times you see the man abandoned the woman or the man not taking care of his kids. They owe money for child custody. It’s the different side of that. I create video content. It’s not always directed towards men because it’s a huge platform. It’s about dealing with the relationship issues and stuff that we struggle through, but also finding our calling, finding ourselves, how to find purpose and how to do that kind of stuff. I put stuff up there every single week on that platform.
I now can see why you’re so busy. You got your hands in a lot of stuff. On top of it, you have to keep creating for you have your own practice and all that. It keeps you busy. We’re nearing the end of our time together. I wanted you to have the opportunity to tell people where, how and when they can get ahold of you and all that pertinent information.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do that. You can get in touch with me. You can either go to my website which is AshleyBerges.com and you can contact me from the contact page there and reach out to me if you’d like to get more information. The links on Amazon and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and all that stuff are right on the front page as well as the YouTube channel. I do have a good, solid, judgment-free zone community on YouTube. There’s new video content put on that every week as well. I also put some of my radio shows up there as well.
Thank you very much, Ashley. Thank you for being a guest. You’re truly special. I’ve known that since I first met you. To our audience, look her up. She’s fantastic. She’s a super good person and she can help you in a lot of different ways.
- Ashley Berges
- The Celebrity Perspective
- Live Your True Life Perspectives
- The Good Men Project
- Expectation Therapy
- Facebook – Ashley Berges’ Page
- Twitter – Ashley Berges’ Account
- Instagram – Ashley Berges’ Account
- YouTube – Ashley Berges’ Channel
About Ashley Berges
Producer and host of The Celebrity Perspective on Amazon Prime, nationally syndicated radio talk show host of Live Your True-Life Perspectives, video columnist for The Good Men Project, a writer for Street Zine, the newspaper that helps homeless men and women. Mentor, Life coach, psychologist and modern-day philosopher, Ashley Berges has dedicated her life to empowering men, women, and children to seek, understand, and ultimately choose to live their true life.
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