Local author details triumph over grief in new book


PIQUA — After years of grieving the sudden loss of her father, Ashley Jackson, of Piqua, boarded a plane to Fiji for a nine month trip around the world.

“Different points in my life led me to realizing life is short, especially when my dad passed. Life is too short. If you have something in mind that you want to do, just do it, because you don’t know — tomorrow’s not promised today,” Jackson said.

Jackson — whose experience traveling to places like Australia, Indonesia, Egypt, and other countries around the world is a portion of her new book, “Lost, Travel, Found” — set off on her “World Purpose Tour” to rediscover who she was as a person, to recapture the spark that had gone missing within her, and to find what she wanted to do with her life.

“When I first took off, I was leaving a boyfriend behind who I had been with for almost two years, but it was something of a grief trip for me. I needed to figure out what the heck Ashley was doing with her life, because after my dad passed, I was lost,” Jackson said.

A huge motivator for the trip, she says, was her father Paul “Skip” Jackson. Growing up, he would have deep talks with Jackson that would always hold a lesson or purpose in them, and he would fill their home with affirmations, believing that words either uplifted or defeated a person. Jackson applied this in her own life — affirming that she would travel, and after realizing that the grief she was holding in and the stress-filled job she was stuck in was negatively impacting her health and well-being, she set off for Fiji.

“I had to do something for myself. The pathway that I was going down wasn’t healthy at all. I encourage anybody and everybody who is grieving to grieve. I didn’t start my grieving process for years after my dad passed, and I was very unhealthy physically and mentally from that,” Jackson said. “My dad always instilled in my brother and I to chase our dreams, to go after what we want. He always told us when we found our purpose in life, everything would fall into place. I truly believe, I know now that he was right, because I found my purpose in life and everything is falling into place like he said it would.”

On her travels, Jackson met people from all walks of life, including a Czech couple who were on the same flight to New Zealand as her and wanted to make sure she got off the plane and to where she was going safely. She stayed with a host family in New Zealand, befriended a Swedish couple at an Airbnb in Australia, and made countless more connections and friends along the way. She still keeps in contact with every person she’s met while traveling.

“Traveling the world was eye-opening. I only knew what I knew. I only knew Piqua, I only knew the surrounding areas. It took me to go to these different places, immerse myself in these cultures, meet new people, eat all the food, to make me appreciate what I have here at home. I still talk to those people. I’ve gone back to visit people along the way, and keeping the hearts and minds open, is the best thing that I’ve been able to learn. Without travel, I don’t think I would be that way,” Jackson said.

Jackson said that the trip was necessary not only to reconnect with herself, but because it taught her to love herself and care for herself as a person. It also reaffirmed her self-confidence; she said she now feels stronger and that she uses her voice more. Traveling also helped her when she returned home and had to cope with more punches — her then-boyfriend, now husband, Troy Thompson, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the nasal cavity, a rare form of nasal cancer.

“He fought that for three years, and he beat it. He keeps me on my toes. It hasn’t always been been glitter and bubble gum to come to this point, and my dad never sugar coated the process to figuring out your purpose, but when he came to know it, he knew it and walked it well,” Jackson said.

After years of grieving and writing, “Lost, Travel, Found” is officially published and Jackson has her hands full with book signings, readings, and adding “published author” to the list of titles she proudly claims. She’s excited to not only share her story, but to see how readers will take it, resonate with it, and transform their own lives.

“If you want anything in life, go after it now. Just do it now. Don’t wait. We don’t have time to wait, because we don’t know what time we have,” Jackson said.

“Lost, Travel, Found” is available on Amazon and at Target, Barnes & Noble, and Jackson’s website, http://www.timelessdreamevents.com/.

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