Beautifully Human / Ashley Behrens

As we continue our series today, Beautifully Human...

We focus on the beauty of humans and the power in their stories…

Through telling their stories we hope to connect this world. To spread strength, love, and humanity...

To show a common thread of beautiful humans…

This week we go to New Orleans, Louisiana with Ashley Behrens to hear her incredible story...

I met Ashley when I lived in New Orleans back in 2009. We had a little group of friends who would hang out and go out together quite often when I was in town. What I remember most about Ashley was how kind she was. She is such a good hearted human. I always felt like she was genuinely interested in everyone she met. If the world had more kindness, like the kindness Ashley has, it would be a more lovely place...

Let’s all be beautifully human…

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Ashley Behrens / New Orleans, Louisiana


Tell me a story that shaped your life…


- I come from a family of runners.  It’s not just a hobby or a pass time, we genuinely love it.  My grandfather started running in his 40’s to stop smoking.  He ran most days with my mom who wanted to recover from knee surgery.  Their love of running and bonding over it was passed down to my brother and I.  Since I was a kid I enjoyed the freedom of running with belief that I could push myself further that I thought possible, and the knowledge that my legs could take me anywhere.  This past Labor Day weekend, I did a race with my grandpa, mom, brother, and oldest niece.  At “A Race for the Ages” you have an hour of running based on your age. 

The youngest division is 40 and under.  My grandpa had 84 hours to run as many 1 mile loops as he could.  I won’t say my mom’s hours, but she had a few.  My brother, niece, and myself each had 40 hours.  We all set up camp together, ate together, ran laps together, and had one of the most bonding weekends I have ever experienced.  Seeing the glow on my grandpas face was breathtaking.  He had inspired 4 generations and so many more to come. In the end he ran 108 miles, mom did 90, my brother got 101, I finished 100, and my 7 year old niece completed 22.  The memories from that weekend will stay with me forever and remind me that I truly can do anything I put my mind to.

Tell me a story that almost ruined your life… 


- About 15 years ago my mom was in a bad accident.  She broke most of the bones in her face and has had to go through countless surgeries to be where she is today. Looking at her, you would have no idea anything bad happened to her.  The idea of almost losing her crushed me for a long time.  The experience helped me understand how precious life is and how quickly it can be gone.

Tell me a story that enriched your life…


- While living in New Orleans I had the distinct pleasure of playing in Stonewall Kickball with my boyfriend as allies of the LGBTQA community. The people I met during that time were some of the most sincere beautiful humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Each week I looked forward to the games and fun surrounding them.  To see the joy in this group of people could bring a tear to your eye knowing too often how they have had to struggle in life, work, family, etc.  This brought me friendships that are so dear to my heart, and opened my eyes in so many ways. I had already thought of myself as inclusive of all, but I learned how to be better as a person and a better ally.  

Tell me a story that enriched another life…


- When I was about 9 I had a favorite doll named Becky.  I took her with me everywhere.  One day we went to go visit my Great Grandma in the nursing home, clearly Becky came along for the ride.  My Great Grandma had Alzheimers and often would not know who anyone was, or call us by different names.   While sitting there my great grandma locked in on Becky and wanted to hold the baby.  She held the dirty little Cabbage Patch Doll like she was a newborn infant. 

A nurse had come in the room and mentioned how many elderly patients loved having dolls to take care of.  In that instant I decided to give her my most prized possession.  I don’t know why.  All I remember is understanding that she was sick and seeing that this could help her.  I left feeling sad, but ok with my choice.  Becky was loved and carried around by my great grandma until the day she passed.    

Tell me a story of crazy life… 


- A little over a year ago I was in New York for work.  My meetings had ended and I had an early flight the next morning.  My instinct was to order some room service, catch up on emails, and go to bed early.  But then again, I was in one of the greatest cities in the world.  It was pouring rain so I gathered my umbrella and went out to grab a quick drink and a bite.  After hours of wandering in the rain, completely lost by the beauty of the city, I found myself in a small bar enjoying some bubbles.  I ended up striking up conversation with two other patrons. 

They were locals and we easily struck a quick little friendship. From there I had the most fun night with these two strangers going to a bunch of bars, wandering around to their regular spots, exchanging stories, etc.  It was one of the most random and wonderful nights I have ever had because of how genuinely unexpected it was.  

Tell me a story of hope… 


-This past week hurricane Sally blew through where I live as a Category 2 hurricane. She did about 5 billion dollars of damage throughout the 2 days she was over us. Immediately after Sally passed my boyfriend went out checking on neighbors to see what their damage was and how we could help.  For days we trimmed trees, got branches off of houses, put fences back up, cleared lawns, and checked on those around us.  The entire community pitched in.  One generator would string two or three houses together so no one would loose food in their fridge and be able to run a few fans.  One downed tree became everyones priority to haul away. 

Food was shared, encouragement was given, and an entire community became a team.  In the world we currently live in, you can often feel you are on an island and that every person is out for themselves.  It gave my hope for our future to see people caring about each other without their own agenda.  To give with no expectation of getting back.  To care while knowing the other party may not be able to do the same. I haven’t felt that sense of hope in a very long time.  

What would you want the world to know about you… 


- I do not have it together.  I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me that I seem to “have it together”. Maybe at this point I am really good at bluffing.  Maybe I just have it together enough.  I try so hard to plan things out and life has knocked me down over and over.  I am getting better at rolling with the punches, but I am still in a constant state of learning. 

People put too much pressure on themselves thinking someone has it all figured out, or has the perfect life.  We are all trying our best here.  All we see of others is the highlight reel.  Most of us don’t have it together, and that’s beautiful.

What did / do you miss most during covid 19…


- Traveling for my job.  My work had me out and about roughly 50% of the time.  I love my home, but I am no homebody.  I want to explore, see new things, try new foods, turn strangers into friends.  In March I was told I would no longer by traveling, then I was placed on furlough.  Suddenly my world felt a lot smaller, and the time on my hands much greater.  

What brings you the most joy / smile the most... 


- I have always had a deep love of animals.  The pets I have and have had bring me the most joy in life. At this point I have 2 dogs and 1 cat.  Ellie, my oldest dog was bought off a drink guy at a party some 14 years ago.  It’s a long story, but basically the guy said he hated his dog and let her run in the road and if someone gave him $100 he would sell her right then and there.  I walked away from that party with a dog in hand.  She is the most caring and precious dog and even more adorable now in her old age.  Ernie, my senior cat, was found at a pet store where he was on display through the SPCA. He was just the cutest little thing.  He isn’t a real fan of other animals, or many things besides me, but his curmudgeon ways are lovely to me.  He can curl up in my lap and sleep for hours. 

He also enjoys catching lizards in our back yard.  Squash, the young gun dog, was a foster failure of mine.  He was found wandering the streets and I picked him up for temporary fostering since the SPCA said he was good with dogs and cats.  He had mange, dermatitis, and smelled like old gym socks.  Weeks of medicine, training, and love made him a new dog.  When the time came, I couldn’t give him back.  He was a perfect fit for me, and my whole crazy bunch.  He is now the most doting and loving animal I have ever met.  Mo one meets him and doesn’t fall in love.  

If you were given a plane ticket to anywhere, where would you go…


- Thailand.  I would spend weeks traveling all around, absorbing the sights, sounds, culture, art, and most importantly the food!

What brought you to where you are at in life today…


- People, hands down.  I am surrounded by the most supporting friends, family, and boyfriend.  When I have had lows there is an amazing group of loving people around me to help lift me up.  When I am riding a high of life I have the same people to celebrate with.  My group of friends is extremely close knit, though we live all over the US now.  My work has taken me all over, so I feel most fortunate to know that tI can travel just about anywhere and have someone I can call on and catch up with.  

What is your most prized possession…


- I have a Tiffany bracelet from my boyfriend that means the world to me.  He had given it to his mother years ago. When she passed away he held on to it.  A few years ago he gave it to me.  I cherish it. 

Traveling is my life, and has also saved my life. It shows the beauty of other cultures. tell me a story of your favorite travel moment… 


- I love finding hidden gems when traveling, I want to find the most obscure restaurant or bar.  I want to taste food made by locals.  I want to experience things on no tourism guide.  That can be hard to do.  My boyfriend and I fell in love with the Caye’s in Belize. While on a trip to Caye Caulker we met an American couple who had moved there a few years ago to open a wine bar.  We spent many nights in that wine bar making friends.  It was there we learned of the best jerk chicken.  Jerk chicken is basically religion in my house. 

We navigated our way to a little beach with a small tent set up.  Inside there was a man and a small grill cooking up one of the best meals I have ever had in my life.  There were no utensils, no napkins, just the food of my dreams and a two picnic tables.  I will fly back to that island just for this jerk chicken.

In another life, what are you doing… 


- 100% I would be a carnie.  I am an adrenaline junkie who loves to travel and has an affinity for fried food.  It would be my perfect world. 

What is your greatest accomplishment… 


- Finishing a 100 mile race.  It was the most exhausting, painful, and demanding thing I have ever done.  So many times I wanted to give up.  In the end I can say it is the most rewarding accomplishment.  Not many people can say they have done that, and no one can take that away from you.  

What is your biggest fear… 


- Not becoming better as a person.  I always want to be learning, changing, developing, being proven wrong and having to alter my ways to make myself better.  Stopping that process, or becoming set in your ways is something I never want to do.  I am such a different person that I was 5 or 10 years ago.  I can say I am better for the people I have met, the experiences that have shaped me, the struggles I didn’t know I could make it through, and the ways that I have opened my mind.

What is your biggest regret…


- Not taking chances.  Any real regret I can think of ties back to not wanting to take a risk, or overthinking what the outcome may or may not be.

What do you do for work… and why…


-Well, after 15 years in hospitality, I am open to new possibilities. I started in hospitality and tourism management right out of college with a job working for Marriott.  I’ve worked in Food and Beverage, Events, Corporate Operations, etc.  Now, due to COVID, I am finding myself on the brink of finding a new career path.  I chose hospitality because I love people, business, and travel. 

Our industry has been decimated by this virus, and I know so many others in a similar situation as mine.  I seen 6 months of this year on furlough waiting to see when anything would get better.  When it didn’t thousands of hard working and talented people lost their jobs. It was hard to watch at first, knowing it would likely come my way.  Now, I’ve resigned myself to optimism. 

If I can accomplish as much as I did in the first 15 years of my career, I cannot even imagine what the next 15 will hold!  

What was your first tattoo...


- I got a heart on my hip.  No real reason, or great thought.  My best friend and I went together and I am happy to say it was one of the least thought out decisions I have made in my life.  I’ve added to it over the years and it now is a pretty intricate design that I sketched myself incorporating the heart into two other pieces.

If you had the ear of everyone in the world, what would you say to them... 


- We are in this together.  Wether we see eye to eye or clash, speak the same language , are the same color, identify similarly, or understand each others backgrounds or not.  We need to be better at being more human to each other.  No one knows my story but me, and no one knows your story but you. We all make assumptions of each other or jump to conclusions. 

If we could boil it down and realize that we are all in this together and treat each other with dignity and humanity, I think we would find ourselves in a much better place for everyone.  




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