I’m Ashley—a psychologist turned vegan cookbook author, recipe creator and photographer. I created the blog Blissful Basil in 2010 and have made it my mission to prove that nourishing, plant-based meals can be incredibly satisfying and delicious. I went vegan in 2014 because of my love for animals. After making the shift, I expected to feel ethically at peace, but I didn’t anticipate the other emotional, cognitive, and physical benefits I’d come to experience from following a plant-based diet.

In addition to my passion for creating and sharing vegan recipes, I’m also insatiably curious about self-development, personal empowerment, and the pursuit of joy. I love discovering new ways to ‘hack’ my mind and emotions to create a stronger presence of peace, contentment, and joy within my life.

With this idea in mind, I co-founded The Good Space in 2018 with friend and fellow blogger, Francesca Phillips. As devout enthusiasts for all things self-help, Francesca and I have developed a collective toolbox filled with years of curated tips, tricks and resources to help guide others to uncover the answers they seek within themselves.

I like to live my life by this motto: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” —Rumi

Biggest lesson I learned in my twenties: Fear will always hold you back if you allow it to.

This is still a challenge for me: Perfectionism. It’s something I work to overcome daily because it has the power to convince me to play small.

My self-care toolkit includes: My favorite meditation app (Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience). My intuition journal (where I write to my intuition). A small collection of my favorite spiritual and self-help books: The Power of Intention, The Universe Has Your Back, The Worry Trick, The Book of Awakening. Essential oils for aromatherapy.

The first five things I do when I wake up are: This looked a lot different before I had a little one! I take care of my daughter, Sloane, until she’s down for her first nap, and then I take care of myself—shower and get ready while listening to a podcast, meditate or worry appointment*, make coffee, check email, reply to comments on my blog.

My favorite way to unwind is: Watch a documentary on the topic of space or spirituality.

My go-to dish to make (or buy) when I want to feel good is: I follow an intuitive eating approach, so this varies depending on whether it’s my heart or body that’s leading the charge! Most often, I gravitate towards big, colorful power bowls with a variety of plant-based dishes nestled into one space. I’ve always admitted to having inattentive taste buds—they get bored with one thing, so a mix of flavors and textures is where it’s at for me! There are also times when nothing brings me more joy (and makes me feel better) than a few slices of warm sourdough dunked into hummus.

My favorite workout involves: This varies depending on the season and the type of movement my body is craving. When the weather cooperates, my absolute favorite workout is hiking. Hiking is my happy place—whether it’s on nature preserve trails where I live in the midwest or in the mountains while on vacation. During the winter months, I gravitate towards mindful indoor movement like yoga and weightlifting.

The one book that has changed my life: The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer

The one podcast I’m always listening to: The Lively Show by Jess Lively

When I splurge, it’s on: High-quality face oil—Vintner’s Daughter is my favorite.

Most affordable, essential self-care product I can’t live without: Essential oils. I apply Young Living oils every night before bed—lavender on the tip of my nose and temples, Ylang Ylang behind my ears, Thieves on the soles of my feet, and Valor over my cervical spine. A small bottle of oil lasts me months (even with regular use) and the simple nightly routine promotes feelings of peace and well-being.

Craziest thing I do for self-care: I wouldn’t classify anything in my daily or weekly self-care routine as “crazy”, but I occasionally do (or have tried) the following in the name of “self-care”: Reiki, chakra tuning, acupuncture, yearly appointments with an intuitive.

Best apps on my phone for enhancing my life: Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience

Favorite piece of advice given to me: The only non-renewable resource is time. Make the most of it.

When I’m stressed out, this is my go-to: Talking with my husband, Dan. He’s my rock and my teacher, and he gets me in a way that no one else does.

Feel-good song that is always blasting in my car: SO difficult to choose one favorite, but my tried-and-true mood-booster is Hall & Oates “You Make My Dreams.”

My advice to women struggling with self-love is: No one is more deserving of your love than you.

*A “worry appointment” is 5 minutes of reciting “what if” worries, aloud, in front of a mirror without arguing with them or trying to disprove them. This is a proven psychological method for combating persistent worry or anxiety. It’s counterintuitive to what you’d think would work, but incredibly effective at quieting and even preventing anxiety. You can read more about this technique in the book The Worry Trick by David Carbonell, PhD (far and away the most valuable resource I’ve ever found on the topic of anxiety).